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Salem girls closer to MAC title with home win over Canfield

Saturday, January 31, 2004

SALEM -- Two perfect months down, two more (perhaps) to go.
The Salem High girls basketball team capped its second straight unbeaten month Friday with a 56-35 victory over Canfield, the second-best team in the Metro Athletic Conference.
The win gives the Quakers (15-1, 9-0) a two-game lead over the Cardinals (11-5, 7-2) with three league games to play (against Struthers, Howland and Niles).
"For all intents and purposes, Salem clinched the MAC title tonight," Canfield coach Pat Pavlansky said. "They are one of the best Division II teams in the state."
Second in three days
The victory was Salem's second in three days after defeating Poland, 46-26, on Wednesday.
"Our toughest competition in the league is now behind us," Salem coach Steve Stewart. "We called this 'Almost Championship Week' for playing Poland [9-4, 5-3] on the road and Canfield here.
"I thought our girls responded very well," Stewart said. "Lizzie Jesko had an outstanding game."
Jesko (10 points and eight assists) and Renee Farina (18 points) capped the night by being homecoming queen candidates.
Last year, Poland and Salem tied for the MAC crown.
Senior Alyson Cotter, who had eight points, four steals and four assists, said, "Our motto this week has been 'we don't want to share it -- we want to win it outright.' That's what these last two games were about -- playing hard.
"Canfield always comes in to Salem and plays hard," Cotter said. "We knew that we had to rise to the occasion."
Salem jumps out early
After giving up two quick buckets by Cotter and Sarah Hamilton in the first minute, Canfield settled down, limiting the Quakers to a 10-4 lead in the first quarter.
Two free throws by Emily Wollet cut the Salem lead to four, but that was as close as the Cardinals would get.
Farina nailed two 3-pointers and Cotter followed with two baskets in a 12-0 run that put the Quakers ahead, 22-6. Salem's lead fell below double digits just once the rest of the way.
"In the first 12 minutes, we controlled the tempo," Stewart said. "One of our goals was to get the lead early so they couldn't control the tempo.
"They want a low-scoring game, while we want to get out and get our shots going," Stewart said. "We didn't shoot well from the 3-point line in the first half -- 2-for-12 -- but we had good looks."
Pavlansky said the Cards "gave a good effort -- it's not like it was 25-0 right away. We wanted to spread them out more, but they took the lead. We got some looks early on but didn't make some shots."
Happy with offense
Stewart was happy with the 56 points against a Canfield team that stresses defense.
"They have been playing very well -- they had real nice wins against North Canton Hoover and over at Poland, so they had a lot of confidence coming in here."
Katherine McGarry scored 12 for Salem.
Salem's 15-game winning streak is the second-longest in school history (the 1980 team won 19 in a row).
Canfield's last loss was on Jan. 5 -- to Salem.
"Last time we played them, I thought it was the first time our team started to jell even though we lost by 26," Pavlansky said. "We gave a superior effort tonight, but you make a little mistake against them, it just magnifies. They are that good.
"This game will make us better, just like last time when it sent us on a six-game run," Pavlansky said.
Wollet led Canfield with 14 points, while Corey Hoffman had 10 points.
"Emily has been a solid player for us all year long," Pavlansky said. "She was taking it to the hoop."