The Fitch basketball team held its annual awards banquet on Monday, March 12 at the Maronite Center.
A nice throng of about 200 people attended the event recognizing the Fitch freshman boys basketball team, the JV squad, the varsity boys as well as the senior cheerleaders and cadets. A lot of Austintown people made this banquet possible and that impressed first-year Fitch head coach Brian Beany.
"We had a great turnout," said the coach. "We got a lot of help from our boosters."
The awards that were handed out last Monday were based on a number of different criteria. No statistical category was overlooked. The biggest announcement during the festivities was that seniors Dan Chepke and Will Mahone were named 2011-2012 Fitch basketball co-MVP's.
The Falcons scored a total of 1,174 points this season and averaged 55 points per game. Of those 1,174 points, 62 percent of those (733) came off the hands of these two seniors.
"That's why they shared the MVP," admitted Beany.
Chepke also obtained a third-year letter and was named to the All-All American Conference 1st team and to the All-Northeast Ohio 3rd team. He also showed how versatile he was from inside the paint and outside the arc. Chepke earned the team rebounding award and, thanks to nailing 44 percent of his triples, he received the three-point percentage award. That mark was eighth best in Fitch history. While Chepke's hoops prowess is powerful, what he does off the court is just as impressive.
"(Dan) is as good a person as he is a basketball player," said coach Beany. "He invested so much in three years. I am so happy for him."
Happy is also the emotion Falcons fans felt this winter when watching Mahone work his magic. It took a little work to get Will to join the basketball team after having an incredible senior football season, which earned him a scholarship to Notre Dame, but once he did he took over the offense. Mahone's 396 points were the ninth most in school history. Mahone tallied 36 points in a game against Alliance earlier this year. That total was the fourth best scoring night ever by a Falcon. He won both the team field goal percentage award and the steals award. Will was also watched heavily in the state and was recognized as a 2nd team All-Northeast Ohio representative.
"(Will) did everything we asked of him," Beany said beaming. "He is the poster child for kids who don't think they can play two sports and play them at a high level."
Both Chepke and Mahone were also selected to take part in the prestigious Al Beach Basketball Classic that will be played in Boardman in the summer.
Besides being rewarded for statistical superiority Chepke also was named Fitch's Mickey Palanda Scholarship recipient. Palanda was a former Fitch athlete who passed away at an early age. The scholarship is worth $1,000 and rotates between a nominee from football, basketball and track. The winner must also maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better and have some internal traits too.
"(The scholarship winner) shows courage and perseverance," explained Beany.
Other seniors who earned awards were Nick Williams and Trevor Yacovone who were both 2nd year letter winners and Pat Rovnak and Nate Blair who were senior letter winners. Blair also won the charges taken honor by setting a school record for drawing 24 offensive fouls against the opposition. Never has being run over and falling butt-first to the hardwood felt so good.
"You have to give Nate some credit," marveled Beany. "All of these seniors did all we asked of them. There was never any jealously among this group. That helped make this a successful year."
There were also some non-senior Falcons who were just as successful this season. Underclassmen who were cited on Monday were sophomores Jesse Driver who captured a 1st year letter and the assists award and Alex DiFrancesco who was also a first-time letter winner.