By Joe Catullo Jr.
Friday night’s contest between the Boardman and Canfield basketball teams was technically already decided at the 6:13 mark in the first quarter.
The Cardinals bolted to an early 11-point lead and won by that same margin, 78-67.
“You can’t expect to start like that and beat a team like Canfield,” Boardman coach Pat Birch said. “We fought hard to get back in the game and had a chance to stay there. They answered with a run and kind of put us away.”
The Cardinals (5-2) later increased the lead to 30-13 at the 6:04 mark in the second quarter. Shortly after, the Spartans (1-6) went on a 14-5 scoring run that trimmed the deficit to eight with 3:06 left in the first half.
With 5:31 remaining in the third quarter, Boardman trailed by five points before turning the ball over. It was during this time that Canfield coach Todd Muckleroy said his team started understanding how efficient his Cardinals can be if they play their game and limit the turnovers.
“I know that sometimes we played a little sporadic, and it resulted into some turnovers,” Muckleroy said. “That kind of evened itself out before halftime, and that’s kind of how we were able to gain some momentum.”
The Cardinals ended the third quarter on a 16-7 scoring run that gave them a 14-point lead. They never looked back since, sealing their fourth consecutive victory.
Andrew Midgley paced Canfield with a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds. He scored nine points during the team’s 12-1 run to begin the game and finished with 15 in the first half.
Midgley said he hoped for more than just four second-half points but added that the team shot too well for him to complain.
“We don’t base our offense around one player,” Midgley said. “It just happened to go to me, but they weren’t really making plays for me.”
Jarret Vrabel finished behind Midgley with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Brian Fryda scored a team-high 17 points for Boardman. Preston Stitt finished with 15 points and a game-high eight assists.
The Cardinals collected 38 rebounds while Boardman tallied 15. In fact, Canfield collected one more offensive rebound than the Spartans had total.
“That’s been a struggle of ours all year,” Birch said. “We’re an undersized team. Finishing possessions has been tough for us. Some of it is the size. Some of it is us not going to get the ball. That’s not the only game that’s been the case this year.”
The Cardinals not only capitalized with second-chance points but also at the charity stripe when drawing fouls. They made 17 out of their 24 attempts.
“We’ve struggled the past four games on free throws,” Midgley said. “We’ve been shooting them like crazy in practice.”
The Cardinals will conclude their four-game homestand against East next Friday, hoping to add to their winning streak after starting the season 1-2.
“We’re facing some pretty tough teams at home, so we want to make sure to keep this streak going,” Muckleroy said.