High school girls basketball / Stow 53, Canfield 33: Carlson reaches 1,000 career points
STOW — Lilee Carlson had no idea what the fuss was about.
After Carlson, a senior, made two free throws late in the third quarter to give Stow-Munroe Falls a 34-point lead over Canfield in a Division I district semifinal, the Bulldogs' bench erupted in cheers.
“I had no idea,” Carlson said. “I was confused after [coach] Bob [Podges] called time out. Then Ellie [McCoy] told me what was happening.”
What happened was the free throws put Carlson into an elite club. She became only the sixth Bulldog in program history to score 1,000 points.
“It was definitely one of my goals coming into this season,” Carlson said.
Carlson broke the 1,000-point barrier with an excellent offensive performance. She pumped in a game-high 25 points against the Cardinals.
Carlson’s big night allowed Stow to cruise to its third consecutive easy victory in the postseason. The Bulldogs routed Canfield 53-33 on Tuesday night at James G. Tyree Gymnasium.
With the win, Stow (22-2) advanced to the district final for the sixth consecutive year. Stow will host Canton McKinley Friday at 7 p.m., after McKinley defeated Walsh Jesuit Tuesday in the other semifinal.
Carlson joined Lianna Jennings, Alex Shaver, Kristi Zeller, Lizzy Stefanov and Jackie Campbell in Stow's 1,000-point club.
"I'm really proud of Lilee," Podges said. "She's been able to do what she's done because she knows her role in our system. This year, her role was to be our primary scorer.
"She did it despite not playing all the games she could have," he added. "She lost 13 game due to a broken collarbone as a freshman and had some injuries the last two years as well."
Canfield (13-8) coach Matt Reel admitted not much worked on either end of the floor for his team.
"We knew it's very difficult to score on them," Reel said. "Every mistake that we made in the first half, they capitalized on. A lot of that is what they do on defense. We're disappointed with the effort we had in the first half."
"I think Stow's playing as well as anyone in the state right now," he added.
A quick 6-0 spurt by the Bulldogs to start the game forced Reel to call a timeout.
Stow guard Anna Hurst showed off her transition game early, and she finished with 10 points.
"You're witnessing the maturing of a young player with Anna." Podges said.
Canfield was able to respond and cut the deficit to 9-7 midway through the first quarter before Carlson and forward Kristin Chmielewski took over.
"Chewy" helped Stow to finish the first quarter on a 10-3 run to lead 19-10 after one. Chmielewski finished with 12 points.
"We knew Kristin could shoot," Reel said. "She hit a couple step-backs with a hand in her face. Obviously, Lilee is a great player."
Carlson was just getting warmed up.
The shooting guard was in a zone in the second quarter, scoring 16 of her 25 points in every way possible.
What's more, Stow limited Canfield to two second-quarter points, giving the Bulldogs a commanding 37-12 advantage at the half.
Canfield was able to find a bit more offense in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs more than matched it.
The free throws that gave Carlson her 1,000 points also gave Stow its largest lead of the game at 52-18.
We've been playing really well over the last three weeks," Podges said. "Our defense has just been getting better and better. Offensively, I think we're peaking at the right time."
Podges played his junior varsity squad for the entire fourth quarter, allowing Canfield to outscore Stow 13-1 in the last eight minutes, but the issue was never in doubt.
Point guard Marissa Ieraci led the Cardinals with seven points.
McKinley handed Stow one of its two losses this season, a 51-48 setback on Nov. 30 at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse.
"We lost to them early in the season," Podges said. "We're definitely looking forward to playing them again."
"We definitely didn't play our best game that night," Carlson said. "I think we've been playing our best ball right now."