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Fitch girls win first conference championship in five seasons

February 13, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

For the first time since 2014 the Fitch girls basketball team has won a conference championship.

Fitch's girls clobbered Canfield 65-58 at home on Feb. 8 to seal the All American Conference Red Tier title. It marked just the third time since 1994 that the Lady Falcons can boast that they have captured league championship rights. They are 15-5 overall this year and haven't lost a game since Jan. 26. Fitch's head coach believes the Red Tier title is a culmination of the effort his girls have given for close to a calendar year.

"It was a great accomplishment," said Dan Schnurrenberger. "The work started last March. They showed up in the preseason ready to go. This group of varsity players have committed themselves to this. They have put time into getting stronger, getting in better shape and getting more skilled."

Article Photos

Head Coach Dan Schnurrenberger and his daughter Taylor and son Johnnie, join Fitch seniors Taylor Fronk, Sabria Hunter, Nyasha Olverson, Mackenzie Marcello, Mia Jackson, Jada Lazaro and Melissa Mershimer in celebrating the conference championship on Feb. 8.

Schnurrenberger's girls have also gotten the better of their rivals from Canfield this season. Their first win over the Lady Cardinals was a narrow one-point escape on Jan. 12. Last Friday night's game was a makeup of the snowed out one from a couple of weeks ago. It was also a lot easier for the Falcons. A 17-9 first period got the home team off on the right foot. Although Canfield made a bit of a comeback in the second stanza, Fitch still held a comfortable 33-22 advantage at intermission. That lead would increase to 14 points after three periods. The Falcons would need that lead because the Cardinals went on a 25-18 run in the fourth quarter. That run still wasn't enough for Canfield to cut into the capital the Falcons already built over the first 24 minutes. Senior Sabria Hunter had 22 points to pace the Falcons. Daria Williams went for 14 points. Taylor Fronk hit Fitch's only 3-pointer and finished with 12 points. Mia Jackson was the fourth Falcon in double-figures with 11 points.

The Fitch kids also captured their second win of the season over conference cousin Warren Harding, but unlike the rematch with Canfield, it didn't come as easily. The Falcons needed a fifth frame to finally pull out a 76-75 victory. Jackson played the hero in overtime hitting a pair of three-pointers. She ended the game with 19 points. Hunter and Williams were both magnificent scoring 23 points apiece.

A couple nights earlier Fitch traveled to Twinsburg and came home with a relaxing 53-40 win. Hunter held court again with 19 points. Fronk followed her with nine. Jada Lazaro also had nine points. Williams was right behind those two with eight points.

The four-game winning streak began when the Falcons beat up Boardman 70-62 on Groundhogs Day, a team Fitch had already beaten by a dozen points earlier in January. Hunter was extra sensational against the Spartans scoring 34 points. Fronk tallied 12 points while Jackson and Williams each scored 11. These past four wins have severely stoked Schnurrenberger's confidence, especially considering his team is playing five games in eight days.

"We are 4-0 so far in this stretch against some pretty good teams," the coach said. "That shows you how tough this team is."

The Falcons will try to toughen it out a couple more times in regular season ending games against Ashtabula Lakeside and Akron Ellet. That twinbill should keep Schnurrenberger's group interested before the beginning of the Ravenna District of the Division I tournament. Fitch is seeded third and will await the winner of the showdown between sixth seeded Harding and number 11 seed Kent Roosevelt. That second-round game will be played Feb. 21 in Austintown.

Schnurrenberger thinks his squad will be successful in the postseason because beyond all of their on-court accomplishments this year, his ladies have a special bond that makes the Falcons extremely formidable.

"They are very close," he noted. "They are best friends off the court."



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