By Tom Williams
Strong starts propelled the Canfield and West Branch high girls basketball teams to easy wins in Saturday’s Division II sectional finals at Fitch High.
Allison Pavlansky hit two of Canfield’s four 3-pointers in the first quarter as her team jumped out to a 17-6 lead against Southeast (11-11) en route to a 61-29 victory.
Ninety seconds into another game, West Branch (20-2) led Mooney 7-0 on the way to a 51-35 victory. West Branch’s advantage was 21 points in the fourth quarter before Mooney (12-9) closed the gap.
Canfield coach Pat Pavlansky and senior Sarah Vrabel said communicating on the court was the key to their early success.
“Everyone was on the same page and we played together,” said Vrabel who scored seven points. “Our goal is to win a district championship and move on.”
Pavlansky told his squad that “if we communicate offensively and defensively, everything else will fall into place. Every kid out there talked more today than they normally have.
“We’re growing, we’re still a young team — we only have one senior,” Pavlansky said. ”They did a really nice job today and we’re really excited to have the opportunity to play in the district.”
Canfield (15-7) led 26-12 when junior Sabrina Mangapora scored her first points of the game. The junior post player made six straight baskets to give Canfield a 38-14 edge at halftime.
Mangapora finished with 22 points and six rebounds while Allison Pavlansky netted 10 points.
Up next for fourth-seeded Canfield is undefeated, state-ranked Ravenna (22-0), the tournament’s top seed. Ravenna ousted Crestwood, 62-49, in Saturday’s other game.
Rebekah Zets, whose 13 points led second-seeded West Branch, said her teammates are a little disappointed they don’t a have a rematch against third-seeded Struthers, which was upset Thursday by Poland.
“Being knocked out by them the past two years, we definitely wanted Struthers,” Zets said after the Warriors’ physical battle with Mooney. “But we know that Poland is going to be a tough match, too.
“This team is the most incredible team I’ve ever played with,” Zets said. “Even with two freshmen starting [Pavin Heath, Melinda Trimmer], they rolled right in with us. ”
Ahead 36-19 at halftime had the Warriors feeling comfortable.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to do,” Zets said. “We know upsets can happen.”
West Branch coach Walt DeShields said this squad is the school’s ninth to win 20 games.
“We’re back in districts — that was our goal,” DeShields said. “But we know it’s going to get tougher.”
Sophomore Taryn Hahn came off the bench to score 10 points while Heath had eight.
“They came out on fire,” Mooney coach Bill Ritter said. “I believe they hit their first six shots and their pressure caused us nine turnovers in the first quarter. Give all the credit to West Branch — they are extremely well-coached and an extremely hard-working team.”
Jamie DiDomenico led Mooney with 10 points while Katrina Larson had nine.