Canfield girls keep lead in Metro Athletic Conference title race

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Canfield 65, Salem 39
After surviving an early season, non-conference schedule that saw them
battling many of the better girls basketball teams in Northeast Ohio, Canfield has its sights on winning a
fourth straight, and final Metro Athletic Conference title.
Saturday, they took a giant step towards that mark, knocking off the
Salem Lady Quakers 65-39. With the win, Canfield ups their conference
record to 4-0 and 8-1 overall.


After surviving an early season, non-conference schedule that saw them battling many of the better girls basketball teams in Northeast Ohio, the Canfield Lady Cardinals have set their sights on winning their fourth straight, and the final Metro Athletic Conference title. Saturday, they took a giant step towards that mark, knocking off the Salem Lady Quakers 65-39. With the win, Canfield ups their conference record to 4-0 and 8-1 overall.

Before cruising to the win, Canfield had to weather the storm that the Lady Quakers struck with in the first quarter. Knowing they were coming in as the underdogs, Salem came out playing inspired basketball. At one point in the first quarter, Salem reeled off 14 straight points to build up a 20-13 lead, led by Senior Kelly Roelen scoring 12 first quarter points.

Canfield head coach Pat Pavlansky was expecting the early surge. “Salem came out energized. We expect that from every team we play against knowing we have a big bull’s-eye on our backs,” said Pavlansky. “I think Salem played very well tonight especially in that first quarter. I think our intensity picked up a little bit in the second and towards the end of the first.”

At that point, the intensity for Canfield picked up on both ends of the floor. With their star center Kate Popovec being the focal point of the Salem defense, the Lady Cardinals were paced by the sisterly guard tandem of Bryanne and Jillian Halfhill. Canfield went on a run of their own scoring the next eight points to end the quarter. Canfield took back the lead for good when Jillian Halfhill beat the first quarter buzzer with a three point shot making the score 21-20 Canfield.

“I think we got a lot of momentum not only from that shot, but the two shots previous to that,” said Coach Pavlansky. “We hit another three and a two in the last minute … They had all the momentum in the world going and their planning on being up at the end of the quarter. We hit those shots to end the quarter which was wonderful and set up the tempo for the second quarter.”

Once the second quarter got underway, Canfield picked up play on the defensive end. The Lady Cardinals held Salem without a field goal and only one point in the quarter as the lead ballooned to 39-21 at halftime.

“We played much better defense in the second quarter,” admitted Pavlansky. “We played much better defense especially on the perimeter. We didn’t let them penetrate and didn’t give them open three looks.”

“Basketball is a game of runs on any level,” said Salem head coach Jeff Andres. “They went on a run, they have great players, that’s why their one of the best teams in the state … They shot lights out, momentum built for them, and unfortunately we weren’t able to stop that.”

Salem’s bid for a comeback was hampered by foul trouble. Roelen, after netting 12 points in the first, picked up her third foul midway through the second quarter, and picked up her forth in the first minute of the second half, keeping her on the bench for key stretches.

“That hurt us a lot,” said Coach Andres. “She comes in in a huge game and plays huge first quarter. Then the fact that you got to put her on the bench when she has the hot hand, that obviously contributed to our lack of points in the second quarter.”

Canfield was led on the night by Jillian Halfhill with 22 points, sister Bryanne added 15 and Popovec finished with a double-double, 15 points and 10 rebounds. Roelen led Salem with 12 points and sophomore guard, Dana Webb getting her first start of the season, added 11. With the loss, Salem drops to 4-4 and 1-2 in the MAC. These two teams will play again January 30th in Salem.

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