Austintown Fitch head girls basketball coach Stacie Cepin will be entering her third season when her team tips off the season on Dec. 1.
Cepin’s first season at the helm was one where Cepin instilled the type of attitude she wanted her new program to possess. Year two saw the upstart Lady Falcons blossom into an 11-win team and come just two points away from winning a Division I state tournament game. Now, as year three approaches, this hungry bunch of Falcons is hitting the court armed with an excellent approach.
“We tasted success last year and this year we come back with a positive attitude,” said Cepin right before an afternoon practice. “We had a great summer, practices have been fun and the kids are motivated and working hard. We have come a long way in three years.”
One example of how far Fitch has come is in the number of quality players that litter Cepin’s roster. As many as 10 girls can be called upon at any time to step up and produce on the floor giving the third year coach an advantage over a lot of her competition.
“We will be pretty deep this year,” Cepin mentioned. “Each night we can have a bunch of girls who score 10 points or more. We will make our lineup according to who we are playing or who had a good week of practice.”
Although coach Cepin doesn’t have a set lineup that she can post each and every night there are two girls who will definitely be penciled in regularly. Senior Anissa Hill has been a main cog in the Fitch offense for it seems like forever and she is poised to say farewell to Fitch after another stellar season.
Sensational sophomore Megan Sefcik will also be back as a starter after posting eye-bulging numbers all last season as Fitch’s best scorer.
“Anissa has done a great job in the preseason for us,” bragged Cepin. “Megan is our top scorer and will make up a good scoring pair with Anissa.”
While Hill and Sefcik are doing most of the scoring for Fitch it will be junior Brenda Thompson’s job to stop opponents from scoring too much. Thompson had a wonderful sophomore campaign and will be needed at point guard to be a good distributor as well as a tenacious defender.
The rest of the Falcons who will vie for starting spots some evenings are juniors Cassie Custer and Briana Edwards and sophomores Maura Bianco and Sarah Melfe who will be making her Fitch debut. Cepin also has a freshman or two who may see valuable varsity time this winter.
Whatever lineup Cepin decides to go with will have the tremendous task of guiding the Falcons into a new frontier. Fitch has ditched the powerful Federal League in favor of the All American Conference Red Tier. The Red Tier is made up of terrific teams like Howland, Canfield and Poland with the Lady Tigers the league favorite. Encountering schools that have a closer proximity to Austintown than most of the Federal teams gives the Falcons a little extra motivation in 2011-2012.
“It will be a new challenge,” Cepin explained. “We are in a local league now with local rivalries. We were in a lot of games against these teams (in past seasons).”
Just because the Falcons are the new kid on the Red Tier block doesn’t mean they can’t own a little beginners luck. Cepin insists that her girls will use all of the pre-league games to showcase just how talented they are then attack their conference sisters with the upmost confidence.
“We should have an expectation to win this league,” said the coach.
That is an expectation that wasn’t prevalent in years past at Fitch, but now seems very realistic.