The run was coming. It wasn’t there in the first half, but the Canfield High girls basketball team was set for a late-game push against Struthers on Saturday afternoon.
“We just didn’t think that run would last 16 minutes,” said Cardinals coach Pat Pavlansky.
Canfield went on a 14-2 run in the third quarter to expand its three-point halftime advantage, leading to a 63-34 win over the visiting Wildcats.
Struthers missed 12 of its first 13 shots in the third and scored just four points before dropping just nine in the fourth quarter.
“We knew we had to shut them down defensively,” Rachel Tinkey said. “The defense fuels our offense. We got rebounds, forced turnovers and were able to push it. It was good.”
A Lynnae Whitehead full-court drive for a layup gave Canfield its first double-digit lead, 33-23, at the 3:32 mark of the third and Abby Baker’s 3-pointer from the left wing put the Cardinals (13-1, 7-0 All-American Conference, American) up by 15 with under two minutes left in the quarter.
Baker made two more triples in the fourth quarter and Tinkey also drained three 3-pointers.
“Abby always knocks ‘em down,” Tinkey said. “We’re always looking for her on those. I was lucky enough to be open on some skip passes.”
Pavlansky added: “We did a nice job of moving the basketball and figuring out who is open when and where.”
Canfield outrebounded the Wildcats (12-4, 5-2), 28-14, but it wasn’t star post player Sabrina Mangapora who lead the team — it was Tinkey.
The 5-foot-6 sophomore grabbed 11 rebounds to follow a 10-board performance from Thursday’s 56-37 win over Howland.
“Rachel is great rebounder for her size,” Pavlansky said. “She’s phenomenal. I wish we had a bunch of Rachel Tinkeys but every kid is phenomenal in her own way.”
Ten Cardinals recorded a statistic and four bench players scored at least two points.
“We’ve got a big bench,” Pavlansky said. “That’s a huge part of our deal here. We’ve got girls who work hard and make the other team work hard and that wears them down, while were still fresh off the bench.”
Struthers led late in the first quarter and held it for most of the second. It played without starters Ashleigh Ryan (sickness) and Brittany Zupko (foul trouble) for much of the second half.
“That’s all part of the game,” said Struthers coach John Grandy. “I’d like to think we’re more of the team that played in the first half than we did in the second half.”
The Wildcats made just 3 of 27 field goal attempts in the second half. Zupko led with 10 points, McKenna Shives scored six and Ryan had five.
Mangapora led Canfield with 18 points and made all eight of her free throw attempts. She had five rebounds. Tinkey finished with 13 points and four steals, Baker had 11 points and Kayla Barko and Allison Pavlansky each scored six.
“I think we needed this,” Tinkey said. “We knew we were good, but we had to prove it to ourselves. It was a real team effort. We had to come out with energy and a will to win.”
Both teams will play in the Second annual Lariccia’s See Them Rise Showcase at the Covelli Centre on Monday.