The Cardinals beat their rivals for first time in the last 14 meetings, 47-45.
POLAND -- A long Chad Fender shot went over the rim, Canfield's Troy Gessner grabbed the rebound and pandemonium broke loose at Poland High's gym, as the Cardinals held on for a 47-45 victory over the Metro Athletic Conference champions Tuesday night.
The defeat was the first in the MAC this season for the Bulldogs, and it was also the first win for John Cullen's Cardinals in their last 14 meetings with their rival.
"Our energy was huge tonight," said Cullen. "It also helped that we had two extra days of practice because of our schedule. Our guys knew that they had to focus on what they could control on the floor tonight."
From the opening tip to Fender's final shot, the contest was packed with intensity as the two teams played before a capacity crowd. They played through an 8-8 first quarter and through four ties and three lead changes in a first half that ended with Cameron Marchese hitting a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give Poland a 23-22 lead.
In the first half, Poland was 10-of-17 from the floor and the Cardinals were 9-of-26. The only lead of more than four points came at the beginning, when Poland's Lou Coppola scored three consecutive field goals for a 6-0 lead.
A Fender basket gave Poland a 25-22 lead to open the second half and the teams battled through three more ties until Canfield (12-5, 8-3) went on a 7-0 run in the last 3:27 of the third quarter. The run was punctuated by Jordan Ferns' 3-pointer with a second remaining in the period.
Canfield's 40-33 lead was eaten away at by the aggressive Bulldogs. A steal and layup by Poland's Erik Carlson tied the score at 40 with 3:29 remaining. It was the eighth and final tie of the contest, which was broken by Brad Gessner's free throw, giving Canfield a 41-40 lead.
Ferns made a foul shot and a Kyle Melewski 3-pointer made it 45-40 with 1:40 remaining.
But, Coppola answered with a basket and a free throw to make it a two-point game. Sean Baker's two free throws restored the Cardinals' lead to four points.
"Coach Cullen prepared us well," said Ferns, who led Canfield with 12 points. "We had a great week of practice; our game plan and energy was the difference for us."
Gessner added 10 points and seven rebounds, and Kyle Schuchler scored six points for the Cardinals. Baker had six rebounds and five assists.
Score in transition
"We were able to get out and run and score in transition," said Cullen. "That was something we couldn't do the first game," a 60-45 victory by Poland.
Coppola and Fender had 12 points each for the Bulldogs (15-2, 11-1 MAC), and Luke Blangero had seven rebounds.
"This was a good tournament prep for both teams," said Poland coach Ken Grisdale.
"Jimmy Shurilla had the flu and played on heart tonight, and Chad Fender had a bad ankle and still gave us great minutes," Grisdale added. "But give Canfield credit; they came with a plan, played hard and refused to lose."