Canfield: We're starting to believe
Cardinals blow out Alliance, 60-44, complete what coach calls 'a good week.'
CANFIELD -- The Canfield High boys basketball team is peaking at just the right time.
After knocking off rival Poland on Tuesday, the Cardinals finished their portion of the Metro Athletic Conference schedule on a high note Friday night with an impressive 60-44 victory over Alliance High.
The win earns Canfield (13-5, 9-3) a second-place finish in the MAC and, more importantly, provides the Cardinals some confidence as sectional tournament play begins in two weeks.
"It was a good week," Canfield coach John Cullen said. "We were able to get a bad taste out of our mouth by beating Poland and then Alliance tonight.
"We're starting to believe that we can be a good basketball team, and we're starting to get into some good habits heading into the tournament."
After getting blown out by the Aviators in the teams' first meeting, Canfield gladly returned the favor. The Cardinals exploded for 23 points in the third quarter to run away with the momentum and put Alliance on its heels.
Canfield outscored the Aviators 23-8 in the stanza, using a pressure defense to force turnovers and convert them into what Cullen calls "easy points." To him, that was the difference in the game.
"Most of the time, getting those easy points -- transition buckets, free throws, rebound baskets -- determines whether you win the game. We like to try to get about 32 or 33 easy points per game. Tonight, we had 42 easy points, and that was big for us."
Strong third quarter
The Cardinals led by nine at halftime, 27-18, and went straight to work in the second half. Jordan Ferns picked off an Alliance pass and drove to the basket for an easy bucket to put his team up 29-19.
That began a 9-0 Canfield run, which turned a 10-point advantage into a 38-19 cushion with just under 6 minutes remaining in the quarter.
Ferns scored six points in the quarter, dished out three assists and swiped a pair of steals to lead the charge.
"We were playing our best ball in that quarter," Cullen said. "Rebounding, hitting the open man and playing good defense. I think for the most part, we did that tonight. We had a good effort at both ends of the floor."
Canfield forced 24 Alliance turnovers and held the Aviators to 33 percent shooting (16-for-48). The Aviators managed just two field goals in the third quarter.
Canfield led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter.
Prepping for postseason
"Our goal right now is to get ready for the tournament," Cullen said. "We saw this week as a tournament week, and we showed we can compete with some good teams. We're in a tough district, but I think we can be in the mix if we get better at a few things in the next week."
Sean Baker's 11 points led a balanced Canfield attack. Ferns and Mike Rounsavall (eight rebounds) added 10 points apiece. Troy Gessner chipped in with nine and Lance Randall scored eight points.
Alliance was paced by Brylynn Hatcher's game-high 19 points.