Struthers’ Ashleigh Ryan (1) drives to the hoop around Cardinal Mooney’s Nichole Webber (25) during their
Division II sectional semifinal basketball game Monday at Austintown Fitch High School. The Wildcats downed
the Cardinals, 55-27, and will face Crestwood on Thursday.
Canfield, Struthers roll to easy victories
By Ryan Buck
The All-American Conference flexed its muscles on opening night of the girls basketball Division II district tournament at Fitch High School.
Following Struthers’ 55-27 triumph over Cardinal Mooney, top-seeded Canfield rolled past Salem for Monday’s 60-33 victory.
Three Canfield starters posted double figures and relentless team defense forced 27 Quaker turnovers.
“It’s a win in the tournament,” Canfield coach Pat Pavlansky said. “It’s a new season.
“Our defense has been a key all season-long. We’re giving up about 36 points-a-game and hopefully we continue that.”
Abby Baker’s eight first quarter points gave Canfield the early advantage, but Salem’s outside shooting kept the game close. Megan Lehwald buried two three-pointers, the second of which beat the buzzer on a spot-up jumper from the right corner to cut Canfield’s lead to 18-13 at the end of the opening quarter.
Salem sophomore Julia Dundon’s offensive rebound and step-back 3-pointer brought Salem to within two with the first points of the second half before Canfield hit its stride.
Sophomore point guard Rachel Tinkey knocked down her first points of the game with a 3-pointer from the right wing.
Canfield’s intensified full-court pressure forced the Quakers into turnovers on three consecutive possessions and missed shots on three more.
“Going into this game we knew that Canfield would be pressuring us,” Salem coach Renee Farina said. “They’re known for that, their intensity on defense.
“We tried to prepare for it, but they’re the number one seed for a reason.”
Following a steal under Salem’s basket, Allison Pavlansky found Sabrina Mangapora inside for an easy lay-up. After forcing a travel call on Salem, Baker knocked down another three preceding five straight Mangapora points.
“We love to press,” said Tinkey, who combined with Baker to hit six three-pointers. “We love to pick up the pace of the game and that’s one of our biggest assets as a team is that we’re quick. Pressure allowed us to get some easy buckets.”
Tinkey capped the 18-2 Canfield run with a straight-on three-pointer with 2:25 left in the half and her third triple of the quarter with 1:30 remaining.
“We were just coming down looking to get good shots out of [Salem’s] zone [defense],” Tinkey said. “We reversed the ball nicely and I was able to hit open shots.”
Mangapora paced Canfield with 16 points, while Baker and Tinkey followed with 15 and 13, respectively.
In game one, Struthers’ 16-2 third quarter run broke their contest open.
Ashleigh Ryan’s eight points, including two fast- break lay-ups off Mooney turnovers, were pivotal.
“Coming out of the half, I think we really picked it up on defense and that followed through on the offensive end,” said Ryan, who scored 12 points. “We were getting steals, we were getting fast-break lay-ups and I think everything started to click after that.”
The Wildcats, who concluded the regular season with five straight wins, held the under-manned Cardinals to nine field goals and limited Mooney standout Jaclyn Yankle to nine points.
“I was really proud of our defense tonight,” Struthers coach John Grandy said. “I thought our pressure was good in the second and third quarter, especially the third.”