Canfield hosts Poland Friday night in a key MAC game.
CANFIELD -- Despite losing by a slim margin, Boardman High boys basketball coach Dan Gorski is seeing improvement.
The Spartans and Canfield engaged in a defensive battle before the host Cardinals emerged with a 44-42 victory in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.
Still, for Gorski, there was a silver lining.
"I was pleased with our overall physical effort," he said. "We had the opportunities to win with some good looks at the basket, but we missed some key shots.
"Early in the season we couldn't have come here and played this well, so we are improving and I feel good about that."
The Spartans (5-6) built a pair of seven-point leads in the first half, the last coming at 19-12.
But Canfield (8-2) rallied for a 23-22 advantage at the intermission, and prevailed in a second half that saw three ties and 10 lead changes.
The Cardinals led 44-39 before Boardman's Nick Daltorio sank a 3-point goal with just over nine seconds remaining.
The Spartans fouled and had a chance when Canfield missed both free throws, but Daltorio's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim.
"Our goal was to control the tempo, but early on they took us out of that," said Canfield coach John Cullen. "What I didn't like was that we never got into our transition game. But give Boardman credit for that."
Jordan Ferns and Kyle Melewski led Canfield with nine points apiece.
Ferns, who averages 16 points per game, also had a team-high eight rebounds.
A look ahead
"This is a big win in a big week for us," said Ferns, whose team plays host to Poland on Friday night with first place in the Metro Athletic Conference on the line.
"We came out a little flat, but we made some good adjustments that were a big difference for us in the second half."
Ferns made a basket with 1:46 remaining in the game, giving Canfield a 40-37 lead. With 41 second to go, he then made a pair of free throws to give the Cards a 44-39 advantage.
All of Melewski's points came on 3-pointers in the first half.
"[Boardman] went to a zone and my teammates found me open and I was in a good rhythm at the right time," he said.
Nick Ludban had 10 points for Boardman, while Steve Fabian scored nine. Dan Martin and Jon Kocon added eight each. Fabian and Martin combined for 13 of the 22 Boardman rebounds.
"They outplayed us in the first half, but we did a good job of neutralizing their inside game in the second half," added Cullen. "Our zone gave us a better chance in the second half."