After starting the season with five fabulous wins in a row, the Fitch girls basketball team entered the holidays unhappy with two straight losses.
Making things worse for the Lady Falcons was that both of those setbacks were against their new rivals in the All American Conference. Fitch was clobbered at Canfield 68-53 on Dec. 23 then was beaten at home by Poland 40-34 on Dec. 29. Heading into that pair of games the Lady Falcons were excited to show off their fantastic skills to their new conference sisters, but instead have started the league schedule 1-2 (5-2 overall).
"We're struggling a bit," said Fitch head coach Stacie Cepin on New Year's Day. "We've had two good practices to get us going (since the Poland game) so we've regrouped."
Cepin's girls needed to regroup after being handled by a Poland group that was coming off a 50-point loss to Howland. Apparently that loss fueled Poland's defense because it took out some frustration against Fitch. The Lady Falcons were held to just one point in the first quarter and, although they came back strong in the second, still trailed by nine points at halftime. Falling behind early has been a problem for the Falcons since day one this season.
"We struggled from the get go (versus Poland)," said Cepin dejectedly. "We have had a problem starting games this year."
According to coach Cepin, a good start to ending that problem is to challenge the more experienced Falcon players.
"We need to fix some little problems," said Cepin. "We are giving more responsibility to our leaders to get us going."
Megan Sefcik and Anissa Hill attempted to get the Falcons going in the last few minutes against the Lady Bulldogs by each nailing a three-pointer that cut into a 13-point deficit and pulled Fitch to within three points. Those shots proved to be the only large ones the Falcons connected on all night. Doing better in the shooting department is one thing Cepin has been imploring her girls to do in practice.
"Poland was hot (shooting) and we didn't respond very well," Cepin admitted. "To our credit we never gave up and kept it close."
Close was certainly not the word Cepin could have used to describe her team's first game following the holiday weekend. Fitch hosted Warren Harding on Jan. 2 and was hammered, 72-42. Once again, the first period proved deadly to the Falcons as the visiting Raiders avalanched the home team on the snowy evening and scored the first 19 points of the contest. It was basically a two-girl team for Harding as Briana McCurdy and Anita Brown combined to score 55 points, or enough to beat Fitch by themselves. Brenda Thompson was the only Falcon to top 10 points with 11.
Cepin's club will next try to snap its three game losing skid in a league game versus Howland on Jan. 5. Fitch will then head off the All American Red Tier trail and play in a Martin Luther King Holiday Tournament. The competition in that event should toughen up the Fitch ladies as the home stretch of the season rapidly approaches.
"We have a tough schedule coming up," said Cepin. "We are at a point in our program where the girls know what we need to improve on and how to do it."