Cardinals' run to open the third quarter proved to be too much for Uniontown Lake.
ALLIANCE -- One of the dangers of a young team is that the coach never knows how it will react to a situation it faces for the first time.
For the Canfield High girls basketball team Saturday, it took about a half for its collective tournament jitters to go away.
The Cardinals trailed Uniontown Lake 28-27 at halftime in their Division I sectional opener, then opened the second half with an important scoring run and went on to a 55-43 victory at Alliance High School.
Canfield (16-5), also facing a natural letdown, was playing just two days after its emotional win over rival Salem.
Strong bench play
"We got some really good play off our bench," Canfield coach Pat Pavlansky said. "They kept us in the game in the first half and started getting us ahead in the second half."
Bryanne Halfhill led the Cardinals with 18 points, getting all but two of them in the first and fourth quarters. Stephanie Zunic added 13 points, while Taylor Amendolara and Liz Vernal came off the bench for five and three points, respectively.
Among the other starters, Danielle Pavlansky scored seven points, Kate Popovec added five and Melissa West scored four.
"This was the first tournament game for a lot of these girls," coach Pavlansky said. "They played a good game."
Erika Scheks scored 10 of her team-high 12 points for Lake (9-12) in the first half.
"We had a really good effort in the first half," Lake coach Tom Grubb said. "We should have had a six- or eight-point lead at the end of first half. We missed some easy layups.
"[Canfield] came out with energy in the third quarter and we matched it for a while," he added.
Lake led 28-22 late in the first half, but the Cardinals finished the half with a 5-0 run -- two free throws by Danielle Pavlansky and a 3-pointer by Zunic with 10 seconds remaining.
Making their run
Canfield then extended the run to start the second, outscoring Lake 7-2 for a 34-30 lead, one it wouldn't relinquish.
The Cardinals led 39-35 entering the final period. Danielle Pavlansky started Canfield on a 6-0 run with a 3-pointer, and shortly thereafter the Cardinals led 45-35. Lake senior Hallie Pettigrew hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to eight, but down the stretch Vernal and Halfhill hit free throws to ice it.
"I figured it would be a tough game -- Lake finished .500 in the Federal League," coach Pavlansky said. "Liz Vernal, Taylor Amendolora and Natalie Fox did a great job. They picked up the defensive intensity, which was extremely important to the victory."
Canfield made 21 of 40 shots (52.5 percent) and committed just 14 turnovers.
Lake was 18-of-48 (37.5 percent), committed 15 turnovers and held a 25-24 edge in rebounds.