By Greg Gulas
It has been 68 days since the Canfield High girls basketball team last lost; the only blemish on their schedule a 59-52 setback to West Branch back on Dec. 5 during what has been an otherwise perfect season.
A victory in their regular season-finale at Lowellville on Thursday and they will set the new standard with 21 wins prior to tournament action.
Sabrina Mangapora had 14 points and 10 rebounds while Rachel Tinkey and Abby Baker added 13 and 12 points respectively as the Cardinals defeated Warren Harding, 50-33, on Monday night.
The Cardinals (20-1) led from start to finish en route to their 18th straight victory, remaining undefeated in 10 road outings.
“It’s a Monday night and we were going up against some really good athletes,” Canfield coach Pat Pavlansky said. “We had an opportunity to get better and while we’re still not shooting as well as we did early in the season, we’re starting to get our legs back and that’s a good thing.
“We placed three girls in double figures despite scoring just 50 points and at this time of the season, you want to be shooting the ball well.”
Baker, who had a game-high four 3-pointers, connected on three buckets from beyond the arc in the opening frame as the Cardinals raced to an early 16-3 advantage.
Seven points by Tinkey and five more from Mangapora in the second stanza then helped Canfield build a 30-17 halftime advantage.
“Warren Harding is aggressive and very athletic so this was a perfect game for us,” Mangapora said. “We were hoping to fine- tune some things with one regular season game remaining and tournament play right around the corner.
“We knew before the season that this was a great group of players, however, we still have more work to do. To win 20 regular-season games is a very special feeling.”
Tinkey, who notched Canfield’s other three 3-pointers, welcomed the Raiders’ challenge.
“It’s good for us to play a difficult game like this because it reminds us of what we still need to do in order in order to get ready for tournament play,” Tinkey said. “Our goal was to get the ball into Sabrina for her to shoot or have her kick it back outside.”
The third quarter was uneventful for both teams as the Raiders (4-18) outscored Canfield, 8-7, with the Cardinals holding a 37-25 lead heading to the final quarter of play.
A bucket by Warren Harding’s Audreyonna Baldridge at 6:22 of the final frame cut the Canfield lead to 37-27, but the Raiders got no closer.
Triples by both Tinkey and Baker and three free throws by Mangapora then helped Canfield seal the victory by closing with a 13-6 run.
“Our goal was to play a solid game at both ends of the court and I was excited by our overall effort tonight,” Harding coach Frank Caputo said. “We’re a young team that starts a freshman, three sophomores and a senior. When you only have four wins at the end of the season the interest sometime wanes, but that has not been the case with our team.
“We knew that Canfield is a disciplined team [and] an opportunistic team that takes advantage of your mistakes. They make you pay.”
Mangapora had the game’s only double-double as Canfield won the rebounding battle, 28-17.
Moesha Parks led the Raiders with nine points while Maya Bell added eight points and a team-high seven rebounds.