LIBERTY Canfield's defense stifles Liberty

The Cardinals shut out the Leopards in the second quarter.
LIBERTY -- Canfield High basketball and great defense go hand-in-hand.
So it came as no surprise to veteran Cardinals coach John Cullen when his team pitched a second-quarter shutout at the Liberty Leopards Tuesday that helped turn a 12-7 first quarter deficit into a 20-12 halftime lead.
Canfield (2-1) went on to easily defeat Liberty (0-2) 47-32.
"We played okay defense. Not great, but okay," Cullen said. "One good quarter like that though can sometimes win you the game and it did tonight."
Liberty, who plays one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the area, got off to a great start against Canfield, ending the first quarter with an 8-0 run.
But Canfield, who had just come off a rugged two-game tournament last weekend, began to pick up the defensive pressure.
Canfield forced Liberty into 10 second quarter turnovers and allowed the Leopards only five shots from the field in the eight minute period.
Liberty coach Bert Stellers said his team expected to face that kind of effort from Canfield.
"We knew we were going up against a good Canfield team and they took it to us," Stellers said. "We had some guys in foul trouble in the second period and our bench wasn't very productive for us in that period."
Liberty's 6-6 center, Jeff Schall, who led the team with 11 points, spent most of the second quarter on the bench with foul trouble.
While Canfield's strong defense kept Liberty from scoring in the second quarter, sophomore Chad Baker began to assert himself offensively as he led the Cardinals with six points.
The 6-4 forward, who scored 31 points against East Liverpool, finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
"Chad played well," Cullen said. "He didn't shoot the ball as well as he is capable of, but he is a very gifted player."
The Cardinals also got a strong effort off the bench from another sophomore, Frank Turocy, who scored a basket and a free throw in the second period to push Canfield's lead to 18-12.
John Virostko's basket at the buzzer gave the Cardinals an eight point lead at the break.
Liberty continued to struggle offensively in the second half, but they played inspired basketball and didn't fold under Canfield's relentless pressure.
After Canfield pushed the lead out to 15 points (36-19) late in the third period, Liberty whittled the lead down to 38-30 midway through the fourth period.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," Stellers said. "I thought that if we got [the score] down to seven or six, maybe we could make a push, but it didn't happen."
Cullen said that his team really didn't play to their strengths against Liberty.
"We didn't pass the ball very well and that didn't allow us to get many good shots," Cullen said. "It also didn't look like our shooters had very good legs under them. We missed a lot of shots."
Jared Kirkpatrick scored 10 points and Chase Booms added nine for the Cardinals.
Schall led Liberty in scoring while Joe Lopez chipped in with 7 points and Joel Marshall grabbed 8 rebounds.