Having a hot start is a great way for an upstart team to announce itself to the rest of the area as a contender.
With a 72-50 non-conference blowout win over Hubbard in its home opener on Dec. 15, Fitch’s girls basketball team upped its record to 4-0. Sizzling may not be the accurate word to describe the Lady Falcons’ start to the season, but boiling with a chance to explode is more apt and just fine with head coach Stacie Cepin.
“We are excited with our start,” Cepin said after a Sunday night practice. “We are battling through some injuries and we are happy with where the program is right now.”
The Lady Falcons flew onto the court in their home lid lifter and scored 24 of the game’s first 35 points. As one may have expected, Fitch did not do as well in the second quarter, but an 18-8 eight-minute advantage allowed the local ladies to take a comfortable 42-19 lead at intermission. Despite the huge advantage, coach Cepin was not as ecstatic as one would think.
“It was not our best performance,” the coach said bluntly. “We missed a lot of layups that we should have hit.”
Although the Lady Eagles actually outscored the home team by one point in the second half it was pretty much garbage time for 16 minutes. Meanwhile, Fitch’s top three starters were anything but garbage last Thursday night as Anissa Hill, Megan Sefcik and Brenda Thompson each topped 10 points. Hill hurt Hubbard all game with 21 points as the smaller Eagles were defenseless against her. Thompson toppled the Eagles to the tune of 16 points. Sefcik soared to 14 points before exiting the contest. The Falcons also received a nice contribution from freshman Aaliyha Sadler who saw a few more minutes and ended the game with six points.
“We wanted to get a lot of girls into the game so it was good (from that standpoint),” Cepin said.
It was even better this past Monday night when Cepin’s club took on longtime nemesis Boardman. The Lady Spartans entered that showdown as the dominant force in the series against their former Steel Valley and Federal League foe. Great defense by the Falcons, however, flipped the script for Fitch against Boardman. Relentless play on the defensive end by the Falcons limited the Spartans offensively as Fitch ascended to 5-0 with a dominating 41-27 victory. Hill and Sefcik were once again the top two scorers for Fitch with 15 and 12 points respectively.
With five non-league games in its rearview mirror, Fitch can now concentrate on its first ever game inside the All American Conference. That contest is Thursday night and lo and behold it will be against cross-town rival Canfield. Like Fitch, Canfield has already topped three wins already, but unlike the Cards those wins have been accompanied by two losses. The Lady Cardinals also lost their first league match to Struthers last week. Playing Canfield and having the outcome count in the standings will be unusual yet very important to coach Cepin and her girls.
“The kids are excited for the Canfield game,” said Cepin sounding pumped up as well. “It will have a different feel this year for sure.”
Following the game in Canfield, Cepin’s club will have a week to digest that decision. Fitch does not play again until Dec. 29 when Poland comes to Austintown for the first time as conference sisters. After celebrating the New Year, the Falcons host Warren Harding on Ja. 2. By that time Cepin’s outfit may have a very outstanding record, but the bench boss will be warning her kids not to let happen this year what occurred last season.
“We were at this same point last year (with a good record to start the season) then didn’t get the job done the rest of the year,” said Cepin honestly. “These girls are happy with where they are at, but certainly are not satisfied.”