BARBERTON - Sluggish arms, tired legs and bursts of tears sculpted Allison Pavlansky outside Canfield's locker room after Tuesday night's game.
Her father, coach Pat Pavlansky, paused from answering questions and embraced her with a hug.
"Great job. I love you," he Pavlansky told her. "We'll be back. Let's go. Gotta go to work."
The Cardinals fell to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown, 52-30, in a Division II regional semifinals matchup.
The Blazers took control with 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter. What started off as a 6-0 scoring run turned into a 30-7 run to the 2:48 mark in the fourth quarter.
Pat Pavlansky called a timeout after the run, glanced at the scoreboard and knew it was over.
"They (the Cardinals) looked into my eye and said, 'You're right, coach,' " he said.
Blazers coach Paul Barlow said the defense was more prominent than the offense during the run.
"We would like to have our defense create our offense, which I think we did a lot of in the third quarter," he said.
The Cardinals trailed, 19-16, before the Blazers' outburst. They kept the game in check, trailing by five at halftime. They scored 10 first-half points on 4 of 17 shooting.
"We didn't want to slow it down," Pat Pavlansky said. "We didn't make any shots in the first half. Of those 17, probably 15 of them were really good shots we normally make."
He added that the Blazers' defense was tough to break through no matter who they guarded.
"If you can't get by somebody, if you can't break anybody down off the dribble, it's tough to go ahead and score," Pavlansky said.
Vanessa Smith paced the Blazers and led all players with 27 points (16 in the second half) and eight rebounds.
"She's good; she's darn good," Pat Pavlansky said.
Barlow said Smith played one of her best games.
"She's stepped up the last few games, and we feel that she's somebody that can take over the game for us," he said.
Nia Marshall finished behind Smith with 14 points (12 in the second half) and seven rebounds.
Leading the chard for the Cardinals was senior Sarah Vrabel, scoring eight points and collecting four rebounds in her final high school game.
"We felt she was obviously the key to their team," Barlow said. "Smith guarded her through most of the game."
Holding back tears, Vrabel said she enjoyed her last season despite the finale ending in a rout.
"We accomplished our goal of winning the districts and definitely was a good team to be a part of," she said.
Vrabel is the only senior on the team, and Pat Pavlansky hopes the Cardinals' relative youth is a good sign for next year.
"It's up to them," he said. "It's up to them and how much time they want to put in the summer.
He added that the team must improve in specific areas.
"Individual players with individual improvement makes your team better. It's that simple," he said.
The Cardinals went into the game fresh off a victory over West Branch on Saturday, 42-40.
But now they have to wait a full year for another shot at regionals.
"I wish them the best," Vrabel said.
The Blazers head into the finals for the fourth straight season, defending their three-time championship.
They square off with Mentor Lake Catholic on Friday in Barberton.
Lake Catholic defeated Rocky River on Tuesday, 42-30, with a late second-push similar to that of Hathaway Brown.