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Fitch boys finally on the board with two victories

January 23, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

It took quite a while, but the Fitch boys basketball team finally picked up its first two wins of 2018/2019.

The Falcons earned their first win this year on Jan. 8 when they handled Howland 63-43 at home. One week later, Fitch took to the road and upended Carrollton 50-46. Alas, the two victories were intertwined with a pair of conference losses to Canfield and Warren Harding. Those two setbacks, however, couldn't quell the enthusiasm Fitch head coach Brian Beany had for his upstart squad.

"It was great to get on the board," said Beany after beating Howland. "The offense produced better. Some of our shots that haven't been falling started to fall."

The shots put up by shooting guard Todd Simons fell early and often for the Falcons against the Tigers. His hot scoring helped Fitch gain a 26-20 lead at halftime. After a closely contested third period, Fitch went on a 20-8 roll in the fourth to clinch its initial win. Simons would end the night with a team-high 17 points. Junior Kris Brown chipped in with 14 points. Junior Lorenzo Russo was right behind Brown with 13 points. Senior Tommy Leskovac was the fourth Falcon in double-digits with 10. Aside from the explosiveness on offense, Beany called out the play on the other end of the floor for a huge reason why his kids were victorious.

"We played well defensively," said Beany. "We've been playing good defense all year, but (in the wins) we combined it with good offense."

Beany's bunch didn't need as much "O" in their other win over Carrollton, but once again excellent defense offset that. Fitch's defenders dominated the second half allowing the home team to only put up 14 total points as the Falcons fought from behind. Simons scored 20 points to head the charge. Brown brought home 18.

It was totally the opposite in the second half of the game at Canfield on Jan. 11. The hosts outscored Fitch 32-22 over the final 16 minutes to break open a two-point game at halftime. Canfield would beat Fitch 58-46. Simons would be the only Falcon above ten points with 19. Brown scored eight points. Junior Devin Chaney went for seven.

Last Friday night in Warren, the Raiders rode roughshod over the visiting Falcons in their 61-42 triumph. A 16-10 run by the Warren kids in the first quarter was followed by a 17-12 advantage in the second. Harding's 33-22 halftime lead looked even larger especially since Fitch could only score 10 points in each of the final two frames.

"We had opportunities that didn't fall," said Beany. "Harding has kids that make plays and they put the ball in the hoop against us. They also hurt us on the boards. We forced them into tough shots, but we didn't block out and they got second chances."

Brown was back at it scoring 10 points for the Falcons, but it was Simons who shined again with 14 points. The talented sophomore has now taken over the team lead in scoring and has become the go-to guy Beany has been looking for since A.J. Green went down in the first game of the season.

"(Simons) has been consistent since day one," said Beany. "He's averaging 15.9 points per game. You can count on him to score 14-18 points per night. Other teams try to take him away, but he's one of those kids that just make plays. You can't ask for much more from a sophomore."

Fitch will try to garner more wins when it has rematches with some of its conference cousins. A game was scheduled with Ashtabula Lakeside on Jan. 22. Then it's a revenge game for Howland on Jan. 25 and another contest with Canfield on Jan. 29. Certainly, Beany's bunch will love to get some redemption from the Cardinals at home. Fitch's coach still sees the Red Tier of somewhat of a mystery.

"It's a strange conference, but an even conference," Beany said. "Boardman has proven they're the best team in the league, but they can be beaten any night. Howland who we play Friday has been playing better. The conference is a struggle, but it's as even as it's been for a while."



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