Only a 53-37 win over Chaney on Dec. 11 has kept the Falcons out of the ranks of the winless. With 10 days off before bouncing back on the court to play 0-4 Canfield on Dec. 27, the Falcons had plenty of time to right the ship. Head coach Jason Baker recently admitted that he knew what area needed righted the most.
“Consistently putting the ball in the basket has been our biggest issue,” Baker said just hours before the tip off with Canfield. “We also have to become a better passing team because you can’t be a good shooting team until you become a good passing team.”
Fitch’s inability to put the ball in the basket was so bad in the battle with Hoover that the game was essentially over before it even had a chance to get into a flow. The visiting Vikings took a 32-12 halftime lead thanks to Fitch’s feeble first-half shooting. The Falcons only hit three of their first 22 shots to fall so far behind the undefeated Vikings that it was impossible to mount a second-half comeback. Twenty turnovers didn’t help the Falcons’ cause either.
“We have been in games this year when we hit our shots and don’t turn the ball over,” said Baker.
While Fitch’s offense was as freezing as the December night outside the gym, its defense was not any better. Four Hoover players topped double-digits in scoring to keep the Falcons in catch-up mode all night. Fitch did score 32 points after halftime and beat Hoover 17-14 in the fourth quarter, but that was with the game way out of reach.
Baker’s bunch did play with a little more defensive intensity in the win over their West Side rivals from Chaney. Besides keeping the Cowboys below 40 points for the game, the Falcons forced multiple turnovers instead of committing them and did a nice job on the boards.
“Our rebounding has been good,” Baker said happily. “We played well defensively versus Chaney and we shot better.”
Now that the Christmas break is over and Fitch gets more games on the schedule, coach Baker is hoping to continue what happened against Chaney more than what transpired versus Hoover.
“If we can shoot well we have a chance to win these next three games (against Canfield, Poland and Niles).”
A short time after Baker made that prediction, part of it came true. The Falcons got good shooting from Dan Chepke who scored 15 points and Jonas Ballard who went for 12 as Fitch nipped Canfield, 38-36 in the first round of the Poland Holiday Tournament. The second half of that Holiday round robin will conclude on Wednesday against host Poland. Fitch’s next game is Jan. 4 when it welcomes Niles to town. Baker will be hoping to use that same recipe for success in those two tilts.
On Jan. 7 the Fitch boys get back into Federal League play when they travel to currently unbeaten Uniontown Lake. Beating a team like Lake, which has already upset Canton McKinley this year, may be tough for these young Falcons, but Baker knows what he wants to see out of his club that night.
“We have to continue to play hard and we need to play better versus Federal League teams,” Baker noted. “We can’t make mistakes against those good teams.”
Photos by Emmett King, Town Crier correspondent
Billy Price uses a little muscle to outmanuever his Canfield defenders Monday night.