By Brandon Judeh
As the Canfield High girls basketball team practiced on Thursday, memories of past dreams were conjured.
The Cardinals (26-1) were preparing for tonight’s Division II regional final against state powerhouse Hathaway Brown at Barberton High School.
Senior Abby Baker is seeing stars — a certain movie comes to mind when she thinks of tonight’s game.
“I always watch all of these movies like ‘Hoosiers’ for instance and now it feels like I’m a part of a movie,” Baker said. “Practicing here today brings back memories of playing basketball with my dad and two older brothers, and how tall they are and how they used to run all over me.
“The Blazers are so tall, it will be like going up against my dad and brothers.”
Baker and company will have their hands full with the four-time defending state champion Blazers who defeated Chagrin Falls, 49-33, in Tuesday’s semifinal.
Princeton recruit Vanessa Smith led the Blazers (20-6) with 21 points, including 15 in the second half to put the game out of reach.
“This team has won six straight regional titles and there’s not much that anyone has done to slow them down over the past six seasons,” Canfield coach Pat Pavlansky said. “Rebounding and turnovers are going to be critical and I know that our girls are focused and ready to go.”
Canfield’s 2012 postseason ended in a regional semifinal game against Hathaway Brown, a 52-30 loss. A bitter taste from that game remains in the mouths of the Canfield seniors.
“We still have that taste in our mouths, but ultimately I think that loss has helped us, because we met all of our goals this season,” Allison Pavlansky said. “We know that in order to get to Columbus, you have to beat the best and Hathaway Brown is the best.”
As the five seniors take their last shot at Columbus, Pavlansky says this season has been special.
“This season has been amazing, especially for us seniors,” Pavlansky said. “We were together in elementary and middle school and we never lost a basketball game, only to each other when it was Canfield vs. Canfield.”
One constant remained in the Cardinals’ minds throughout the season — Hathaway Brown.
“I think we all had that game in the back of our minds as motivation, in terms of we never wanted to have that feeling again,” Sabrina Mangapora said. “Knowing that when you think about that game every day at practice, you will be prepared for it when the day comes.
“For us that day is [here].”