The Cardinals will play Uniontown Lake High in the first round of the Division I tournament.
By JIM FLICK
CANFIELD — Led by Mike Podolsky’s 41-point effort, Canfield prepared for next week’s playoffs by blasting Niles 94-69 Tuesday night.
Podolsky scored the game’s first points when he broke away for a layup.
The senior forward also tallied the Cardinals’ 92nd point when he sank a 3-pointer with two-and-a-half minutes remaining.
Podolsky swished home five 3-pointers on the night, along with 12 2-point baskets and a pair of free throws.
Gene Wollet contributed 22 points to Canfield’s scoring deluge, while Justen Vrable contributed 12 points and Joe Hoelzel contributed 10 points.
Ryan Frantz led Niles’ efforts with 23 points, including seven long-range 3-pointers. Joe Moss scored 15 points the Dragons, while Saul Vaughn contributed 13 points.
Before the game, comments by Canfield coach John Cullen gave no indication of the offensive blitz that would be launched by the Cardinals (17-2, 6-0 All-American Conference Red Division).
Referring to Niles’ top scorers Frantz and Vaughn, Cullen said, “We need to keep them under control.”
Cullen added, “We hope we can keep healthy and get ready for the tournament.”
Niles coach Rick Kover made similar comments before the game. “We need to get ready for the tournament.”
Kover added that he hoped the Niles squad (9-11, 2-6 AAC Red Division) would play well enough against Canfield to “build some nice momentum going into the tournament.”
After Podolsky’s first basket, Frantz responded with his first 3-pointer to give Niles a 3-2 lead.
Niles stayed close in the opening minutes, but Canfield built a lead that reached 14-7 when Podolsky hit a short jumper.
The Red Dragons fought back, closing to within 18-16 when Vaughn sank a basket and followed with a free throw.
But in the final two minutes of the first quarter, the Cardinals launched a blitz, outscoring Niles 15-2 and held a 33-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Niles fought back in the second quarter, outscoring the Canfield 22-21. But Canfield still held a 54-40 lead at halftime.
The Red Dragons missed their first four shots of the second half. The Cardinals surged ahead, outscoring Niles 15-4 In the opening minutes of the third quarter. When the third period was over, Canfield led 75-54.
Canfield’s lead reached 20 points in the fourth quarter when Wollet rebounded his own missed shot and scored to put the Cardinals in front 85-65.
The Cardinals outscored the Dragons 19-15 in the game’s final period.