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Falcons get big 56-54 win over Harding

February 1, 2011
By Nik Zirounis
A huge road win at Warren Harding helped the Fitch girls basketball team overcome the disappointment of two league losses recently.

Fitch entered that Harding game on Jan. 26 reeling from a heartbreaking, last minute 57-54 loss to archrival Boardman a few nights earlier. Thanks to a 34-26 run over quarters two and three, the Lady Falcons were able to shake off the doldrums of that previous game and a shoddy first quarter to ascend to a 56-54 victory. Winning a game like that is more proof to how far this young Falcons club has come in a short time under head coach Stacie Cepin.

“It was a great win on the road,” the second year head coach commented. “We came back after a devastating loss to Boardman. The difference (from previous seasons) is that the kids came back and practiced hard (after the loss to Boardman). They have a great attitude and great energy.”

Great offense can make any team form a great attitude and that is exactly what the Lady Falcons found last Wednesday night. Megan Sefcik continued her high scoring freshman season with 24 points, but more importantly, she was joined in double-digits by two other Falcons. Erica Braxton and Mariah Snowden both scored 10 points to aid in the Fitch offensive effort. Most of that scoring came after the first period when the Falcons were a little too generous with the basketball for coach Cepin’s taste.

“We had a sloppy first quarter throwing the ball all over the place,” Cepin complained. “We gained our composure in the second quarter. We kept it close and had a chance to win at the end.”

The win was Fitch’s eighth this year which is an accomplishment for the team in itself, but winning road games against teams like Harding who already have 10 wins means a lot more to the program.

“Harding is a great team,” Cepin said. “These are the types of win that will give us confidence come tournament time. We still have an opportunity to get some wins before the districts.”

Unfortunately, the win over the Lady Raiders was Fitch’s only win in its last three games. The Falcons led the Lady Spartans by five points at halftime of their Jan. 20 affair. Boardman came back to take a single-digit lead heading into the fourth period. Fitch was up by that same margin late in the game until a traditional three-point play by Boardman’s Brooke Meenachan put the Spartans up 53-51. Down four points with 11 seconds left, Fitch’s Anissa Hill hit a three-point shot to pull the Falcons to within one point again, but that is as close as the Falcons would come. Boardman hit a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to win by three. Snowden took scoring honors with 21 points. Hill hit for 12 points. Marissa Mattozzi had seven points for Fitch. None of those scoring outputs, however, could turn Cepin’s frown upside down after the loss.

“It was pretty disappointing at the end,” Cepin said sadly. “It would have been great to come out and win.”

What compounded the disappointment for the Lady Falcons was the fact that this home game was Fitch’s annual “Think Pink” game to promote breast cancer awareness. Although the outcome of the contest was less than desirable, the outcry of support was awesome.

“We got great support from the community,” Cepin announced excitedly. “A huge amount of people showed up and we were able to raise a lot of awareness. We hope to continue this event each year.”

Fitch fell to 2-4 in the Federal League when it lost at Massillon Perry on Jan. 29 by a score of 59-41. Only Sefcik and Hill topped ten points last Saturday as Fitch was outscored by the Lady Panthers 38-15 in the decisive first half. That setback was odd compared to other losses this year because it was one where Fitch was never really in the ballgame. It also stymied the Falcons’ hopes of winning back-to-back contests in an enemy gym.

“We had a tough test on the road versus Perry,” said Cepin. “We had a chance to host a first round Federal League tournament game with a win.”

Instead of playing in front of friendly fans when the Federal League playoffs began Feb. 1, the Falcons were forced to travel to Canton to take on second seeded Hoover who has just one loss in the league. The Federal tourney continues Saturday, Feb. 5 and concludes one week later.



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