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Season changes after opening injury

December 12, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

It only took three minutes of this new season for tragedy to hit the Fitch boys basketball team.

Team leader and number one returning athlete A.J. Green suffered a torn ACL moments into Fitch's opener at home against Chaney on Nov. 30. The 6-foot-5 Green not only was the player that head coach Brian Beany was going to facilitate a lot of his offense through, but he was the only Falcon with any real height advantage over his opponents. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Fitch fell to the upstart Cowboys 86-57. Two subsequent losses pushed the Falcons at 0-3 so far this season. Head coach Brian Beany was more concerned with the loss of his senior star than the slow start by his squad.

"Most likely (Green) is done for the season," said Beany last weekend. "I feel horrible for him. He worked so hard this summer to have a great senior season and now it's likely over."

Fitch's longtime bench boss then went on to explain how Green's absence will affect the Falcons as a whole.

"It changes everything," said Beany about Green's departure. "It changes our rotation and our philosophy. He gets our extra rebounds. He's 6-foot-5, now everyone on our team is 6-foot-2 or under. Our guys replacing him are doing ok, but don't have the size."

From the time Green went down the newly reconstructed Cowboys took advantage. A fast first quarter and a 12-2 run by Chaney before halftime gave the visitors a 46-32 lead at the break. Fitch never regained momentum in the second half as Chaney won the final two quarters by a 40-25 margin.

Four nights after getting lassoed by the Cowboys, the Falcons welcomed Hudson to Austintown. The results of that game were even worse. Hudson hammered the home team 61-38. The Explorers had the scoring advantage in each period spurred by a 13-5 run in the first. Fitch did get 20 points from sophomore shooting guard Todd Simons, but that would be the only offense it could muster.

After getting blown out in a pair of home games, Beany's boys traveled to Louisville on Dec. 7. Anyone who hoped a change of scenery would help improve Fitch's fortunes was sadly mistaken. A 23-8 run by Louisville in the second quarter broke open a close game. That huge advantage allowed the Leopards to cruise to a 71-38 victory. Senior Israel Jusino and junior Kirs Brown led Fitch in scoring with nine and seven points respectively. Needless to say, the Falcons need more scoring if they are to get off the mat in December.

"We're not knocking down shots at high rates," Beany said. "We've gotten looks, but have not been shooting the ball well."

It would help Fitch's ailing offense if the defense could force a few more easy buckets. At this point, that has not been happening for Beany's bunch.

"We haven't played great defense," said Beany. "Without too much offense we're putting too much pressure on our defense. (Good offense) has to start on the defensive end."

The Falcons attempted to buck their losing ways and start a winning streak when they met Erie McDowell this past Monday night. A large matchup with Poland is slated for Friday. It's the continuation of one of the most challenging slate of games the Falcons have faced in recent seasons.

"We knew our first four games were going to be tough," Beany said. "And it's not going to get any easier. We need to stay positive. I know we can do it, we just need to believe it and hit some shots."



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