The beauty of playoff basketball lies in the rise of the underdog, so in the case of the Lady Bulldogs, Thursday night’s game was drop-dead gorgeous.
The fourth-seed Stow Bulldogs toppled the top-seed Canfield Cardinals in the St. Vincent-St. Mary Division I district championship game on Feb. 25.
Stow came off an overtime thriller against rival Kent Roosevelt to earn a spot in the district final against a Canfield team holding a very similar record.
Freshmen Lizzie Stefanov and Lexie Petit got things rolling for the Bulldogs early in the first quarter, with consecutive layups to pull Stow ahead 4-0. Difficulties on the offensive end for Stow were amplified by missed opportunities, as they were given good looks but failed to finish around the rim. Fortunately, the first quarter ended with a tie at 10-10. The Cardinals kept Stow’s defense honest with success behind the arc.
With substitutions for Stow to the start the second quarter, the defensive intensity was revved up, as junior Kelly Fenwick swiped the ball from a Canfield guard and laid it in to pull the Dogs ahead 12-10. A fire was lit under the Bulldogs and defensive pressure forced steals that were in turn converted into points for Stow. Sophomore Teresa Parr came up big, contributing three consecutive strong takes to the basket to bring Stow ahead 22-14 wit 3:37 to go in the half. First half play concluded with Stow holding a 26-19 lead over Canfield.
The second half was dominated by the Bulldogs as the Cardinals never came within five points for the rest of play. Canfield attempted to press late in the third, but Stefanov was able to knock down a pair of three balls forcing the defense to pull off the pressure.
Stow went on to defeat the Canfield Cardinals 56-40. Senior Jessie Stout led the Bulldogs with 12 points, followed by Parr with 11, and Petit and Stefanov each adding 10 of their own for the team. With the win, Stow earned its first district title since 2007.
The Bulldogs will now move on to take on Canton McKinley in the Division I regional semifinal. The game will take place March 1 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center starting at 6:15.