By Greg Gulas
Are the Canfield Cardinals more comfortable playing on the road than in their own barn?
Their unblemished mark away from home this season is a strong indicator.
Andrew Midgley scored 14 points and the Cardinals never trailed in the game as they defeated the Boardman Spartans, 47-42, in the battle of Route 224 on Tuesday night at the Boardman Gymnasium.
With the win, Canfield (12-2) improved to 8-0 on the road this year, getting back on the winning track after dropping a 67-64 overtime decision to All-American Conference, American Division foe Howland last Friday.
That loss halted an 11-game win streak by the Cardinals.
“We knew that Boardman would give us all we could handle,” Cardinals coach Todd Muckleroy said. “This is a big win because we’ve been struggling to play with the lead. We’ll watch films and practice harder in order to get better in those situations. Andrew really brought a lot of different dimensions to his game. He can shoot it deep, but also realizes that he can be a finesse player in the post and we need that.”
A triple by Midgley, three-point play by John Schiraldi and bucket by Marco Delorenzo staked Canfield to the early 8-0 lead.
Boardman (3-13) then ran off nine of the final 13 points of the quarter to trail just 13-9 heading to the second period.
Canfield stretched its lead to 19-11 on a bucket by Midgley mid-way through the session, but four points by Boardman’s Reggie Jones helped the Spartans stay within striking distance at the intermission, 24-16.
“We definitely came out tonight with a chip on our shoulder, all because of our loss last Friday to Howland,” Midgley said. “This became that much bigger for us because we didn’t want to drop two straight games for the first time this season. We pride ourselves on our defense so when we struggle offensively, our defense kicks it up a notch and that is what we did tonight.”
Six points by Midgley and a conventional three-point play by Jarret Vrabel keyed a 9-2 Cardinals run to start the second half, helping Canfield increase their margin to 35-25 heading to the final frame.
The Spartans mounted their comeback when Sam Mathey and Reggie Jones combined for nine of the quarter’s first 11 points, which enabled Boardman to pull to within 39-34 with 5:02 remaining.
Jamar Steverson’s two buckets then keyed an 8-4 run by the Spartans as Boardman pulled to within 43-42 with 59 ticks remaining.
A jumper in the lane by Brady Clark and two free throws by Cole Pryjma in the game’s final 37 seconds then sealed the victory for Canfield.
“The same thing continues to hurt us and that is our execution,” Spartans coach Pat Birch said. “We had good looks tonight but the ball just didn’t fall. That’s basketball.
“Overall, I was proud of our defensive effort except at the outset of the third quarter. We lost those two or three minutes and it really hurt us.”
Neither team shot particularly well from the field with Canfield canning just 16 of 43 field goal attempts, compared to 14 of 40 for the Spartans.
Boardman held a 28-27 rebound advantage with Steverson hauling in a game-high 12 caroms.