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A lesson in a loss

February 15, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The Canton District of the Division I state playoffs begins this Saturday (Feb. 10), but the Fitch girls basketball team got a preview of those playoffs last weekend.

Fitch traveled to Massillon to take on the bracket's number one seed Jackson to complete its regular season slate. Unfortunately, it also witnessed first hand how hard it will be to get out of the district alive. Jackson jumped all over the Lady Falcons 82-58 to snap the local girls' five game winning streak. Instead of sulking over the major setback, however, Fitch head coach Dan Schnurrenberger used this loss as a learning experience for his ladies.

"Massillon Jackson is the number one seed in our district so it was a great opportunity to play against them and their (best) player Taylor Mikesell," said Schnurrenberger. "(Mikesell) plays for Team USA and is one of the top ranked guards in the country."

The Fitch bench boss' admiration for Mikesell was made even larger after seeing her in person. Jackson's senior shooter extraordinaire set the Stark County all-time scoring record thanks to her 60-point performance against the Falcons. She hit 14 3-pointers en route to her historic afternoon. Luckily Schnurrenberger's bunch will not have to encounter Mikesell and her mates in the tournament unless they reach the district finals. Fitch is the number seven seed in the bracket opposite Jackson and will host its first tournament tussle with another Massillon school this Saturday. The Falcons face number 10 seed Perry in Austintown with the winner getting a crack at second seeded Canton GlenOak on Feb. 22. Coach Schnurrenberger is very confident and excited for this upcoming encounter with the Lady Panthers.

"We need to have a great week of practice to prepare," said Schnurrenberger, "but with this group I like our chances playing at home in round one."

The second-year coach certainly liked what he saw from his squad since losing to West Branch on Jan. 22. The five-game perfect stretch started with a narrow 41-40 win over Warren Harding two nights after falling to the Lady Warriors and continued with wins over Youngstown East, Howland, Kenmore and Lakeview. Those triumphs made the loss in Massillon much easier to take.

"Winning five straight was a great stretch for us," said Schnurrenberger. "I am proud of the way the girls finished the regular season."

Sabria Hunter had a nice end to her regular season scoring 21 to lead the Falcons against the Lady Polar Bears. Camryn Constance came home with 16 points. Gina DiFrancesco scored eight points for Fitch.

The loss left the Falcons with a 13-7 season record (9-4 in the All American Conference Red Tier). The Panthers enter this Saturday's playoff game with a 5-14 overall record. These two schools were conference cousins when both played in the Federal League a few years back, but it has been a while since they squared off on the hardwood.



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