If you’re at a Canfield High boys basketball game this year, you may need to take a second look at the Cardinals’ bench and student section.
It may seem like you’re in Coral Gables, Fla., for a Miami Huricanes game or the north side of Youngstown at an Ursuline contest.
This year, the Cardinals go by an alter ego, The Red Union. Players and fans, alike, form “U” shapes with their hands.
On Friday at Poland, Red Union let out an “I believe that we will win” chant followed by the drowning sounds of “UUUUUUUUU” after a 54-35 win over the rival Bulldogs.
“We like to say, ‘Are you ready?” and we have shirts that say ‘Red Union,’” senior Marco DeLorenzo said. “That’s our slogan this year and that’s what we go by.”
They also go by defense.
The Cardinals (9-1) created 10 steals and forced 23 turnovers. DeLorenzo led the charge against Poland’s Jake Wolfe, holding the junior star to just five points.
“Jake had early looks and he wasn’t finishing,” said Poland coach Ken Grisdale. “I’m not sure if that was affecting him mentally. He was a different guy and that goes with the defensive pressure.
“The DeLorenzo kid did a great job making him work for everything.”
Wolfe scored three points in the first six minutes of the first quarter where the Bulldogs (9-1) took an 8-0 lead. It easily could’ve been extended to 12 or 14, but the Bulldogs missed shots in the paint. Wolfe didn’t score again until the closing minutes of the fourth. Canfield’s first points didn’t come until the 2:49 mark of the first quarter.
“They didn’t let the slow start waver them,” Grisdale said.
Canfield led by two at halftime and exploded after the break thanks to DeLorenzo’s offensive play.
The senior drilled two 3-pointers early in the third quarter and added another to cap off a 17-point frame, extending the lead to nine.
A defense-first kind of guy, DeLorenzo enjoyed living by the deep ball in a raucous atmosphere.
“We don’t really need him to score, but it’s OK when he does,’ Canfield coach Todd Muckelroy said with a laugh.
The win was the third-year head coach’s first against Poland on the road.
“We look at this game on the schedule and say, ‘Boy, it’s a tough place to win,’” Muckelroy said. “It’s like playing in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Our guys gave a great effort at Salem last Saturday night and an even better effort tonight.”
DeLorenzo’s steal and lay up gave Canfield its first double-digit lead at the 6:47 mark of the fourth. The Cardinals missed only one shot in the final eight minutes.
DeLorenzo finished with 15 points, Andrew Midgeley added eight as Brady Clark and Jarret Vrabel each had six.
Kevin White scored nine points to lead Poland, who was 7 of 17 as a team from the foul line.
“It was a weird night,” Grisdale said.” Let’s hope it was a mirage and just lasts one game.”