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Free falling Falcons remain winless

January 9, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Despite an 0-7 record to start the 2018/2019 season, the Fitch boys basketball team knew it had a chance to rise from the ashes right after New Year's Day.

Fitch faced off with Boardman on the road on Jan. 4 to tip off the All American Conference portion of its schedule. Following a quick non-conference clash with Girard on Jan. 5, the Falcons would confront all AAC schools the rest of January. If the Falcons were to erase the memory of their gruesome start to the season, winning these Red Tier tilts would certainly be a way to do it. Unfortunately for the Fitch men, they remained winless after last weekend's action.

The beginning of the AAC season started poorly. Fitch played valiantly in Boardman, but eventually were subdued by the Spartans 70-53. The game against 7-1 Girard was just as tough for the Falcons as they fell 64-57 in overtime. Although his team is still searching for its initial win of the season, Fitch head coach Brian Beany is beginning to see a lot more positives than he did a few weeks ago.

"We've made strides each game," said Beany. "We're still trying to figure out where some kids fit in, which is crazy to say eight games in, but it's where we're at."

It seemed as if the Falcons had the Spartans figured out last Friday night. Boardman blasted Fitch early and went on an 11-0 run in the first quarter, but the Falcons fought their way back into the game to pull to within one point at the end of the period. The score was 33-29 in favor of the home team at halftime meaning Fitch still had a chance to capture the upset win. The Falcons tied the game on two occasions in the third period and entered the final frame still within striking distance. The Spartans turned up the defensive heat in the fourth forcing Fitch into a multitude of turnovers. Those miscues pretty much ended Fitch's shot at garnering win number one.

"We were in it for three and a half quarters," said Beany. "The final score was not indicative of how we played. We contained Boardman's good guards and that kept us close. We hung around into the fourth (quarter), but crucial turnovers hurt us. We can't afford to have those turnovers."

Senior forward Tyler Jaros and sophomore guard Todd Simons each scored 13 points to pace Fitch in scoring against the Spartans. Kris Brown brought home 10 points. Reuben Talley tallied eight points. On the negative side, Beany's boys totaled 21 turnovers.

Beany knew heading into the tussle with the Indians last Saturday that his team would be fighting an uphill battle. Not only did the Falcons have to play two nights in a row, but they were squaring off against a squad they normally don't have much interaction with.

"We didn't have time to prepare for a good team," Beany said. "We were pretty nervous about it going in."

Preparation wasn't the problem for Fitch in a heartbreaking 54-52 loss to Alliance a few nights after Christmas. A missed opportunity was. Fitch had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to win the contest, but a steal by the Aviators sealed their win. Simons scored 12 points, but was held to just 4 of 12 shooting by Alliance's dynamic defensive duo of Brandon Alexander and Jeff Talbert. Brown ended the night with 11 points.

The shoddy shooting by Simons notwithstanding, Coach Beany believes better scoring days are ahead because his bunch has changed its offensive philosophy.

"Our three-point attempts are going down," said Beany. "We've become more aggressive going to the hoop and have gotten to the line more. That's good because we're not settling on the three as much."

Conference games against Howland at home and Canfield on the road will certainly not be easy tasks for the Falcons, but perhaps more points in the paint and from the foul line will allow them to light up the scoreboard more.

"We've scored in the fifties a lot more consistently," Beany said. "Now we have to do better than that. We need to make the most of our opportunities, do the little things better and just improve overall."



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