Clark’s layup clinches Canfield's victory
By Joe Catullo Jr.
With 1:37 remaining in Saturday night’s game, Anthony Shivers hit a layup that put his Salem Quakers within two of Canfield.
Then the Cardinals called a timeout, and coach Todd Muckleroy called for the “Kent State Go.”
Conner Kesner set a pick on the Quakers, letting Brady Clark break free from defenders. The next thing Salem saw was Clark underneath the hoop with the basketball, making the easy layup.
“To put us up back by four, a two-possession game, we knew we just had to defend to win it, and we’ve had a great defensive team all year long,” Clark said.
The Quakers failed to score the rest of the game while the Cardinals scored three more from three throws, sealing a 47-40 victory.
“It’s one of those things where they’re closing the gap, and we need some kind of a play to get a high percentage shot,” Muckleroy said. “Sometimes you’ve got to go for it. A lot of coaches would try to hold for that last shot, but sometimes you’re going to find yourself on the bad end of that if you hold it.”
When Clark took off his jersey after the game, underneath was a cutoff black LeBron James 2009 MVP shirt when he was a Cleveland Cavalier. Clark said he wears it every game.
“I cut it off and just kind of threw it under my jersey,” Clark said laughing. “I don’t like him anymore, but it’s a shirt. I knew if I cut it off I wouldn’t wear it anywhere but the games, and no one else would have to look at it.”
The Quakers (7-2) held a five-point lead at halftime before the game was ultimately decided in the third quarter. The Cardinals (8-1) began and ended strong with an eight-minute, 19-7 run that put them up by seven when the fourth quarter started.
“We had a horrible third quarter,” Salem coach Rich Hart said. “You can’t leave that many empty possessions. We’re a senior-laden team. We should take care of the basketball and not make the mistakes we made in the third quarter. There’s just no excuse for it.”
During the back and forth battle in the fourth quarter, Canfield junior Cole Pryjma took a blow at half court with 2:57 remaining when a Quaker landed on top of him. Pryjma bled noticeably and was motionless for a few moments.
Coaches, trainers, a trash can and brown paper towels surrounded the area as the crowd sat in silence. Pryjma later left on a coach’s shoulder and did not return. Muckleroy said he was unsure of Pryjma’s condition afterwards.
Pryjma finished with two points and one rebound, but it was his leadership and poise that kept the Cardinals fighting.
“It didn’t look real good, but that win’s for him,” Muckleroy said. “He’s the pulse of this team. I know when he went down that our guys rallied around Cole, and we just hope he’s okay.”
Next for the Cardinals is a trip to Poland on Friday while the Quakers travel to Alliance on Tuesday.
“I think there was a lot of MVPs on this team tonight,” Clark said.