Since losing by 36 points to Uniontown Green in last season's Division I sectional tournament, Fitch boys basketball team were on a mission to avenge the defeat.
The Falcons worked out in the weight room to become as strong as their adversaries from Uniontown, but unfortunately not even a team gathering at the recent Arnold Classic in Columbus would help outmuscle the Bulldogs. For the second straight season Green stopped Fitch's season in the sectionals. The Bulldogs edged the Falcons 46-44 March 1 ending Fitch's year at 18-5. Although his team was sent packing for the summer after one contest, head coach Brian Beany was impressed with how the team performed in the playoff game.
''Losing in a tournament game at any point is disappointing,'' Beany said, ''but our kids battled. (Green) is very physical. Nobody on our schedule matched the physicality of Green.''
The battle the Falcons and Bulldogs waged over the first three quarters resembled an old Tyson versus Holyfield championship bout. The game remained close enough and although they were trailing by 5 points in the fourth period, the Falcons were able to use an 11 to 8 advantage to close to within 2 points with seconds remaining. Beany placed the pumpkin in the palms of his best player Jesse Driver to try to send the game into overtime or perhaps win. Unlike many times in his high school career, Driver wasn't able to bail the Falcons out.
''We had a shot at the end with the best player on the floor having the ball in his hands,'' Beany said. ''It was a 15 round fight.''
Despite missing the final shot, Driver put an exclamation point on his high school career with a game-high 21 points. Fellow seniors Michael Butcher and Quincy Higgins also said farewell to Fitch with 8 and 4 points, respectively.
The Fitch club was spearheaded by seniors with players such as Gabe Chepke, Alex DiFrancesco, Austin Hogan and Jacob Capezzuto joining forces with the seniors and taking the Falcons to lofty heights.
This season's Fitch squad was the the third in school history to accumulate 18 victories. The Falcons played well enough in the regular season to earn a home tournament game, including a signature win over fifth-ranked Uniontown Lake in February that Coach Beany called at the time ''the most gratifying win of the season.''
''Nothing I could say (to the seniors) would have made them feel better,'' Beany said. ''They did a lot (in their careers). I don't think they know how important they were in bringing excitement back to this program.''
Sophomore Anthony Pangio put in 8 points against Green on Saturday to become one of the players who should be penciled into Beany's starting lineup in 2014-2015.
''We didn't win 18 games by luck.'' Beany said. ''You win 18 games by putting the time in and working hard. Every game we played, we played hard and didn't quit. We have a lot of good, young kids coming up and they saw how much (the seniors) worked.''