Canfield claws back
Cardinals rally past Ursuline
YOUNGSTOWN — When Ursuline fired off a 7-0 run to begin the Division II sectional bracket final against 10th-seeded Canfield, the Fighting Irish had early momentum and induced a Cardinals’ timeout less than 2 minutes into the game.
But for the most part, those opening few minutes concluded the energy that Ursuline had for much of the game, except for a run in the second half.
Canfield overcame a slow start and went on a 15-point run before halftime in upsetting fifth-seeded Ursuline, 80-68, on Friday in Youngstown.
“Keith (Gunther), he gets his guys ready to go and they could get a full head of steam and really bring a lot of pressure,” Cardinals’ coach Todd Muckleroy said following his team’s win. “I know that we’re a team that typically has got some leads and we’ve struggled a little bit down the stretch, but I was really happy to see how we weathered the storm a couple of times against Ursuline to make sure we inch out that lead.”
Canfield senior Trey Dye lived up to his name, hitting five 3-pointers, and tallied a game-high 33 points after coming into the contest off an injury.
A pair of his long-range shots helped his team fight back to only trail by a point following a first-quarter buzzer-beating layup off an inbounds pass by Jake Grdic, who ended the period with 10 points himself.
Following a stepback jumper in the paint by Ursulline’s Jakylan Irving to break a 9-0 run, Dye was fouled moments later and hit a pair of free throws, then made a 3 while being fouled that started another Canfield run. The Cardinals led 40-26 heading into the locker room.
“If someone makes a 3, it definitely helps everyone get more confidence,” Dye said.
With 5:58 remaining in the game, Ursuline junior Brady Shannon netted a 3 at the top of the key to cut the deficit to 58-48, but 10 fourth-quarter free throws by Dye, along with Canfield’s success at beating the press and finding open buckets under the basket, allowed the Cardinals to thwart any kind of Fighting Irish comeback.
“They weren’t shooting the ball very well, they were looking to drive more than shoot, so we kinda sagged back off,” Dye said. “Protected the paint more, because Brady Shannon was getting a lot of easy buckets inside, so we kinda just condensed in the paint more.”
For Ursuline (14-9), its season ends in disappointing fashion after five consecutive losses, but the loss to Canfield Friday evening is one that coach Keith Gunther won’t forget for a long time.
“I just thought for me as a defensive-minded coach, I thought that it was an embarrassing defensive effort for one of my Ursuline basketball teams,” he said. “At the end of the day we can point our fingers to whomever, but it comes back to the coach, and obviously I didn’t get through to them the last probably three games, of what it takes to win.”
It’s also a loss that Ursuline will have to sit on for awhile, but Gunther said he will evaluate his team as the offseason progresses, and himself as a coach, something he does after every season ends.
“If you look at the youth in our program, you look at the kids that are coming back, anybody would be salivating to coach the kids,” he said. “Because they’re young, they’re talented, they’re long, they’re athletic, but at the end of the day you’ve got to do what’s best for not just you as an individual, but you’ve got to do what’s best for the program.
“So, if I feel like that coming back is the right move, and they’re hungry and they want to go play Ursuline basketball, then we’ll make a decision, and we’ll bust our behind to get back to where we’re supposed to be as a high-level basketball team.”
Grdic added 16 points, along with senior Nick Pantelakis’ 10, for Canfield (13-9) which moves on to host 14th-seed Chardon next Thursday. The Hilltoppers upset fourth-seeded Perry on the road.
Shannon paced Ursuline with 18 points, Irving tallied 13, and junior DeMarcus Elroy, along with sophomore Terrance Pankey, scored 10 each.