Without a doubt, first-year Fitch head basketball coach Brian Beany will be a part of tons of exciting games before his career at the school comes to a close.
What may be doubtful though is if any of those games can match what happened in the rookie coach’s second career contest. Beany’s Falcons fought hard all night, but ended up on the short end of an exhilarating 84-81 triple overtime loss at Alliance on Dec. 6.
“It was a great game,” announced a hoarse Beany the day after the game. “We expected to win, but came up short. We make no excuses.”
Coach Beany didn’t need to make any excuses for the way his kids played either. After falling behind by three points after one quarter, Fitch found a rhythm in the second stanza and roared back to take a 29-26 lead at halftime. Fitch also won the third period, but a 19-13 run by the Aviators in the final frame sent the game into overtime. One reason why the Falcons were not able to outscore Alliance in the extra session is because they lost one of their best shooters.
“We led a majority of the game, but then (Dan) Chepke fouled out in the first overtime,” Beany explained. “I can’t stress how proud I was of our kids. The kids came out and fought through four quarters and overtime.”
With Chepke and his 10 points on the bench, Beany needed other players to take control and he found that player in senior Will Mahone. Entering the season, the new coach was ecstatic to have such a talented athlete like Mahone making the team. What he couldn’t imagine is the impact the football star would have so early in his court career. Mahone hit shot after shot as he kept the Falcons flying in the extra periods. The senior ended the night with 36 points.
“(Mahone) was the best player on the floor,” said Beany honestly. “He wanted the ball and wanted to put the team on his back.”
Also scoring double digits were Nick Williams and Alex DiFrancesco who each tallied 10 points.
“Williams had a solid game,” said Beany, “and the sophomore DiFrancesco stepped up too.”
Unfortunately for the Falcons, they took a step back in their opening game of the year as well. On Dec. 2 at Jefferson Area, the Falcons were foiled in another close contest, 42-38. While the Fitch kids’ performance in the second game of the season was rather clean, their outing in the opener was much more spotty.
“The kids were tight,” Beany admitted. “We had lots of turnovers.”
Like in game two, Fitch held an advantage at halftime in game one, but was outdone in the second half. This time it was the third quarter when the Falcons faded losing that period, 14-7. Still, the game was tied with 56 seconds left, but Mahone missed a free throw that would have given Fitch the lead. A subsequent hoop by the home team put Jefferson in front for good.
Chepke remained in the game the whole time and tied Mahone with a team-high 16 points.
Although coach Beany was befuddled with the loss in Jefferson he saw enough good things four nights later to leave him feeling optimistic as the team prepared to play its home opener.
“If we play more like we did versus Alliance than we did versus Jefferson the sky is the limit,” Beany said excitedly. “The kids were emotionally upset after (the Alliance) game and that’s good. It proved that the kids cared and were not satisfied with the outcome. It will keep them hungry for the next game.”
That next game was that home opener on Dec. 13 against Liberty. This Friday, Fitch travels again to Hubbard before coming home to host Newton Falls on Dec. 20.