Two wins in a row helped the Fitch girls basketball team shake off its second loss of the season to rival Canfield.
The Lady Falcons fell to the Lady Cardinals 63-57 on Jan. 24, but bounced back nicely with wins at Lakeview and Howland. In the process, one fabulous Falcon player reached an incredible milestone.
During Fitch's 61-48 dismantling of Howland on Jan. 31, junior Megan Sefcik eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau for her brilliant career. Most girls who reach that total do it in their senior season, but Sefcik, who has been draining buckets since she was a freshman, only needed two and a half years to accomplish that feat. Sefcik's sensational scoring effort made an otherwise ho-hum win over Howland more exciting.
File photo by Emmett King, Town Crier correspondent
Megan Sefcik shoots a short jumper against Poland in December. The junior hit 1,000 career points on Jan. 31 against Howland.
"It was a cool night," said Fitch head coach Stacie Cepin. "(Megan) is unbelievable. Not only is she a great individual performer, but she is an awesome teammate too."
Megan and her mates had a little bit of trouble at the outset of the contest last Thursday night. A strong start by the Lady Tigers took Fitch by surprise. Howland led by a basket at the end of the first half and by one point at halftime. Coach Cepin attributed that sluggish start by her squad to the anticipation of Sefcik's 1,000th point.
"We struggled early on," said Cepin, "maybe because the kids knew (Megan) was so close (she needed six points heading into the game and got it in the second quarter). We came back and put it away in the fourth."
The Lady Falcons' defense froze out the Tigers in the second half holding the home team to 14 points. A pair of 14-point periods after halftime was all Fitch needed to win comfortably. Sefcik scored a lot more than the six she needed to top 1,000 finishing with a team high 21. She is now fifth in the area in scoring with 19 points per game and leads the All American Conference. Sarah Melfi messed up Howland with 20 points including three of her team's four three-pointers. In fact, it was Melfi's triple midway through the fourth period that put the Falcons ahead to stay. Last Thursday's performance by Melfi is just the latest one in a series of impressive outings by the junior.
"(Sarah) had a career high (in points)," Cepin exclaimed. "She has had a string of great games, but (the Howland game) was her biggest of the year. With teams keying on Megan we need other girls to step up."
The "other" Falcons kept the game with Lakeview close on Jan. 28 until Sefcik found her shot. Once again the Falcons found themselves down on the road and didn't really wake up until the last minutes of the second quarter. Fitch fought back to take the lead at halftime then padded its margin in quarters three and four. A huge steal and bucket by Sefcik with less than three minutes remaining in the third gave the Falcons a five-point lead, which they never relinquished in a 69-47 triumph. That win plus the one a few nights later in Howland should act as large momentum builders for Cepin's club (now 15-4 overall) as the playoffs near.
"Those were two important wins," the coach insisted. "It's always important to get important wins on the road."
Fitch only has to play one of its three remaining scheduled games away from Austintown, but those three contests will be a drag since they come in a five-day period. Included in that stretch are games against improved Boardman on Feb. 4 and the always-anticipated Senior Night on Feb. 7 versus Beaver Local. The road game is Feb. 9 at West Branch.
"We have a big week coming up," Cepin said over the weekend. "We'll try to win as many as we can."
Winning may be a lot more difficult the rest of the way since Fitch has lost a main cog from its lineup. Super sophomore Aaliyah Sadler has been lost for the season due to a torn knee. That loss will cause some shuffling in Cepin's starting five.
"We'll need to make an adjustment in our rotation," Cepin said sadly. "It's terrible because she is such a great girl. Injuries are part of the game, but I feel awful for her."
A continuation of the stellar play Cepin's girls have exhibited since falling to Canfield will go a long way in making that awful feeling subside a little bit.