Practice pays off
Canfield bounces back after intense practice
The week didn’t start the way Canfield wanted.
A 54-35 lopsided loss to Stow-Munroe Falls on Monday evening left the Cardinals less than pleased, and motivated them to practice with an extra level of intensity Tuesday before their home contest against the Boardman Spartans on Wednesday.
It’s safe to say that Canfield’s hard work in between contests paid off, as they blasted Boardman, 54-33, with junior Alyssa Dill being a massive first-half factor on the offensive end of the floor.
“I was really proud of our effort, and our defensive effort,” Cardinals coach Matt Reel said. “We were absolutely horrendous against Stow Monday night. A lot of that had to do with them, but we didn’t guard like we wanted to, and I was really proud of the defensive effort for that.
“It just feels good because our girls experienced what it was like to just kind of have some grit, and I was really proud of that.”
What happened in between Monday and Wednesday made a difference.
Dill recorded a career-high of 24 points in the victory over Boardman, and said she thought that Tuesday’s practice refocused the team.
“We had a really tough practice yesterday,” she said. “It was very emotional, it was very tough on all of us. We’re just focusing on the little things, like jumping to the ball and talking, managing our defense.
“We needed that hard practice yesterday to get us back on track, and yesterday was all worth it.”
Canfield’s efforts showed on the court against a Boardman team that was looking to string together a few wins following a rout of Fitch last Saturday. Canfield limited the Spartans to no more than 11 points per quarter, and a total of 13 points in the entire second half.
Dill made her presence on the floor known early with nine points in the first period and another nine before halftime to lead all scorers with 18 heading into the locker room.
“My teammates did such a good job of looking for me when I was open coming down the middle, just passing to me when I was open, and it’s all from my teammates.”
Leading 29-21 going into the second half, Dill and senior Ryley Chambers scored a pair of quick baskets to extend Canfield’s lead, but Boardman soon found some life with senior Katie Stamp and sophomore Gia Triveri helping the Spartans go on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 35-30.
Cardinals senior Marissa Ieraci and junior Gianna DeLucia netted back-to-back three pointers to extend the lead to 41-30 going into the final ten minutes of play and repel Boardman’s comeback attempt. The Spartans scored only three points in the fourth quarter, with Canfield outscoring them 13-3 down the stretch.
Foul trouble limited Dill’s playing time in the second half, which meant that some younger players had to step in and play quality minutes to put the game away as Boardman gained momentum.
“I think they’re like a lot of young players in the fact that sometimes when things go wrong, they kind of struggle with adversity a little bit,” Reel said. “We’ve had our share of those things with the opponents we’re playing.
“I was really proud of how they kind of bounced back, and it didn’t look like it bothered us for the first time in a long time, so I thought that our mental game was as good as our physical.”
Boardman falls to 3-9 on the campaign, but coach Brett Green sees improvement.
“Canfield is well-coached, they drove to the hoop hard. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping girls out of the lane,” he said. “We’re getting better, they’re getting better, and we’re just going to keep working.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids stepping up and they’re learning how to play basketball, they’re getting better at it. They’re asking a lot of questions, which is really good, it’s telling me that they’ve bought in.”
DeLucia tallied seven for Canfield (5-5), with senior Gia Francisco and sophomore Abby Muckleroy adding six. Boardman was paced by senior Raegan Burkey with 10, and junior Emma Mills with eight.
Practice pays off
Hubbard pulls away from Red Dragons thanks to 2-a-days
HUBBARD — After weeks of being locked down, there’s action back on the court across Trumbull Country.
Going into Thursday evening, Niles and Hubbard were a pair of teams looking to find their first win of the season after dropping opening night contests within the Northeast-8 Conference.
Both teams field young rosters and placed an emphasis on finding meaningful minutes early in the season as coaches figure out rotations following a lot of missed time.
Following a close first quarter, the Eagles went on an imposing 14-2 run before halftime to fend off the Red Dragons at home, 46-21.
The key to Hubbard’s success? Practice. Practice. Practice.
“I’m so happy for the girls. They put in a lot of work after the shutdown Trumbull County did,” Eagles coach Scott Slovesko said. “I asked them to do something that I’m sure a lot of programs didn’t do. We went twice a day, we came in at 8 a.m., worked out for an hour and a half, then we came back in at 3:30 p.m.”
Some of that hard work showed itself on the defensive end of the floor as Hubbard limited Niles to only nine field goals during the course of the evening and held the Red Dragons to under seven or more points in each quarter.
Five different Eagles scored during the team’s massive second quarter, which set up a 23-9 lead going into the locker room, and helped a young roster with only two upperclassman build confidence.
“We’re so young, I think we’re going to go through growing pains,” Slovesko said. “But they’re sticking together as a team, and that’s the main thing. They’re playing together and they’re a family.”
One of the new faces at the varsity level is freshman Peytyn Slovesko, who recorded a game-high 14 in the winning effort.
“I felt like we played together as a team, and this is going to keep us going through the season,” she said, as nine of her 14 points came on 3-pointers. “My team helped me a lot, we swung the ball, and I got wide open shots.”
Niles went on a 6-1 run to start the second half with field goals from senior Emma Flanigan and freshman Katie Heinsleman, but it would be all Eagles the rest of the way, as Hubbard would outscore Niles 23-17 to close out the game.
Hubbard (1-1, 1-1 NE8) sophomore Sophie Murphy also hit double-figures with 10 points and is happy to be back playing basketball.
“It feels great, we really got through (the shutdown) as a team, and we’re really going do good this year,” she said. “We talked a lot, and after we came back, we put a lot of work in to prepare for the season.”
Junior Grace Narkum helped pace the team offensively with seven points.
With the first win under their belts, coach Slovesko feels that things will ease in going forward.
“Just the confidence, we’re changing the program here, and we’re changing the culture,” he said. “It’s just different, a win like that it just builds so much with the team, and it gives them so much confidence, and that’s the main thing.”
Niles (0-2, 0-2 NE8) was led by Heinsleman with nine points and freshman Carly Orsine adding four. Red Dragons coach MaKayla Butler starts a pair of freshmen in the form of Maddie Davis and Heinsleman, and Butler is developing a team that has three seniors, two sophomores, and seven freshmen.
“We graduated our four-year point guard, so we’re trying to get these girls to learn our system and get them playing at the varsity level,” she said. “So, it’s going to take some time, but they’re playing the minutes, and those other freshmen are playing as well, and we’re just going to keep moving day-by-day.”