For the first time since the 2007-2008 basketball season the Fitch Lady Falcons have won a game against a Federal League opponent.
Fitch not only captured that long-awaited Federal victory when it defeated Massillon Jackson, 45-42 on Dec. 4, but it was done impressively on the road in front of a hostile pro-Lady Polar Bears crowd. The monumental achievement capped an exhilarating week for the Lady Falcons who also beat West Branch, 60-49 on Nov. 27, and Girard, 68-41 on Dec. 1. After three games, the Fitch ladies stand 3-0 and, yeah I said it, are in first place in the Federal League.
“I’ve never been in this position before,” said an elated Fitch head coach Stacie Cepin following the win in Massillon. “I don’t know how to act as a coach. It feels good though.”
Helping her coach feel even better is unbelievable freshman Megan Sefcik. Cepin excitedly bragged about this ninth-grader during the preseason and called her the type of kid who is a “gym rat.” Well, over the first three games this season, this rat has eaten up opposing defenses like the proverbial piece of cheese. Sefcik has slapped 22 points on West Branch, 23 on Girard and 20 more on Jackson. That adds up to a 23-point-per-game average. Sefcik has been deadly from behind the three-point arc as well hitting all three of Fitch’s threes in the road win last Saturday. Cepin has been amazed at the ease in which her freshman finds shots for herself.
“She always finds ways to score,” said the coach. “Teams are already trying to key on her, but she is able to do so much. She is a special kid.”
Sefcik is not the only special Falcon either. Fitch has a trio of senior players who have been stepping up their games since the start of this season. That triumvirate has been through enough losing in their high school tenure so it was extra special for them when they helped win that initial league game.
“The seniors have gone through a lot,” said Cepin about Mariah Snowden, Erica Braxton and Marissa Mattozzi. “They have struggled in the Federal League their whole careers. That is why this win (over Jackson) is so emotional. It shows how much they have grown and how hard everyone is working.”
Braxton is doing her best scoring job on the road so far with 13 points in the victory at Jackson and 11 in the win at West Branch. Snowden scored 28 points combined in the first two games.
Heading into the fourth period last Saturday it looked as if the Falcons were on their way to another Federal League heartbreaker. Despite playing a good game throughout, Fitch still trailed 35-32 after three quarters. With the help of Sefcik and Braxton, Fitch was able to outscore the home team 13-7 over the final eight minutes to come home overjoyed.
“Getting that Federal League win on the road was huge,” Cepin shouted.
Not only are the Falcons getting major contributions from their seniors and Sefcik, but there have been some important outputs from other players over this three game streak. Anissa Hill scored six at Jackson and had 11 in Girard. Alexa Lynn scored four points against the Polar Bears. Sophomore Brenda Thompson has been super as a substitute too. With all of those girls helping the cause, it is proof that this Fitch program under Cepin is able to put talented players on the floor.
“I’m proud of our strong bench,” said Cepin. “We can go eight or nine deep.”
If Fitch is to go deep into the season still unbeaten it will have to keep the intensity it has shown so far this young season. The Falcons play a road game Dec. 8 at West Side rival Chaney before heading back into Federal League action. Staying in first place in the Federal may prove to be a lot for Fitch to handle since it has to go on the road at North Canton Hoover Dec. 14. Three days before that road trip is a home game against top rated and Federal League favorite Canton McKinley. It would be foolish to think that the Falcons are in the Lady Pups class at this juncture, but coach Cepin will have her girls prepared to play like this is the middle of March not the middle of December. She will also not allow her club to rest on its early season laurels.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” said Cepin honestly. “We are happy right now, but we are never satisfied.”