HOWLAND CENTER, OH – It was a back and forth battle on Tuesday night as Howland and Canfield squared off in Game 1 of their two-game rivalry series. In a game of various lead changes, the Cardinals got the best of the Tigers at the foul line as they pulled off the 54-51 road victory.
Canfield had a splendid night shooting the ball as their perimeter game helped them find open shots all night, with three-pointers falling down left and right. With 14 of their 16 players being underclassmen, players such as Dom Cruz and Ray McCune got the hot hand as the Cards were able to hit five treys as a team in the first half alone. It was phenomenal to the point that Sam Castranova was able to drain a three as time expired in the first period.
Howland, however, had a shooting game of their own as the charge was led by senior Brandon Null. Usually in the forward position down low, he was comfortable out of position on the night, shocking the Cards with his exceptional shooting from the wings to help push the Tigers to some lead changes. Fellow Ben Bronson also helped his hand in the second half with two pivotal three pointers.
Despite Howland taking a three-point lead in the fourth, Canfield stayed their course and refused to panic. Staying disciplined underneath the basket, along with some smart substitutions by veteran coach John Cullen, they would cause Howland to commit a crucial foul going down for the ball, a foul that would put the Cardinals into single bonus. Junior Tony Russo was relied on as their go-to foul shooter, and he would not disappoint, as he went 6/6 from the charity stripe in the final minute to help his team hold three-point leads twice. Despite Howland coach Dan Bubon’s best efforts to get his team into position for a game-tying shot, the Cardinals closed down on defense and blocked the three to secure the win.
Canfield (10-3) remains undefeated in AAC play at 3-0 as they will now have back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday against Chaney and Poland, respectively. The Cardinals will look to take down the Cowboys on Friday night before quickly turning around for the Battle of 224 with the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. Howland (6-7) has now lost five straight after starting the year 6-2. They will take a break from conference action when they travel out to Cardinal Mooney on Friday night. Mooney ousted the Tigers 53-52 last season at Howland.
YSN’s Noah Ricks got a chance to speak with Canfield coach John Cullen following tonight’s victory. The full interview can be watched below.
*Contributed By YSN’s Noah Ricks