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Huge win over Harding helps Fitch celebrate Senior Night

February 19, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

On a day usually reserved for greeting cards with special meanings, the Fitch boys basketball team earned one of its most meaningful wins of the season.

Fitch's boys bounced 13-8 Warren Harding 60-54 on Valentine's Day evening. Making the upset win even more special was that it also occurred on the school's senior night at home. Truthfully, this year has been a trying one for the rebuilding Falcons both in and out of the All American Conference. Tripping up one of their longtime rivals certainly warmed the collective hearts of Falcon Nation on February 14.

"Anytime you win on Senior Night it's a special night," said Fitch head coach Brian Beany last weekend. "Sending the seniors out with a victory is always special. We played a pretty solid game. We had good energy and execution and we had a good crowd too."

The pro Austintown attendees were whooping it up from the get-go as the Falcons stunned the Raiders in the first quarter. Fitch jumped out to a 17-7 lead thanks to some superior shooting from sophomore Devin Sherwood. The guard was hot in the opening eight minutes and would nail a total of four 3-pointers for the game en route to a team-leading 23 points. Harding then settled down in the second stanza and tied the game going into intermission. The Falcons came out in the third period as sizzling as they were in the first frame and seized control of the contest with a 20-14 quarter. The two teams played evenly in the final period, allowing the Falcons to hold onto their exciting 6-point triumph. Junior Todd Simons scored 15 points to aid the winning effort. Junior Nate Leskovac scored five points. As for the seniors, Allison Edwards scored five points, Devin Chaney captured four points, Trae Wilks and Kris Brown both tallied three.

The only downside to such a signature win is that the victorious team has to protect itself against a letdown in the following contest. Unfortunately for the Falcons, that next game up was 24 hours later. In a strange scheduling twist, Fitch played back-to-back nights and had to travel to Cardinal Mooney on Saturday. That trip to the South Side of Youngstown didn't go very well. A huge first half by the Falcons was foiled as they basically ran out of gas after halftime. Mooney outscored Fitch 41-21 over the final sixteen minutes to maintain a 57-44 win.

"It's kind of a big game, next game theory," said Beany. "We had kind of a hangover from the win the night before."

It seemed as if only Simons was the only Fitch shooter who could enjoy any success against the Cardinals. He scored 24 points to lead the way, but no other Falcon could manage more than five points. Beany attributed that to the Cardinals' switch in defensive strategy.

"We started out well then (Mooney) went into a zone and we struggled putting the ball in the basket," the coach said. "We haven't seen zone a lot this season. We didn't capitalize on our opportunities in the fourth (quarter) and they hit some shots."

Not only did Mooney make more shots from the field, but it also nailed many of its free throws down the stretch. In Fitch's win over the Warren kids it connected on 17 of 20 charity tosses to ice the game in the closing moments. Against the Cards, Fitch was 6 for 9 from the foul line while the home team hit 19 of 23.

"That's a lot of free points," said Beany. "We didn't hit our free throws in the fourth (quarter) like we did in the Harding game."

Beany's bunch will get two more shots at finishing the regular season above .500. They played at Poland on February 18 then will battle Boardman on the road this Friday. The 19-1 Spartans are unbeaten in the AAC and have already clinched the conference crown. They fried the Falcons in mid-January 68-44, so this rematch is a great chance for Beany's gang to gain revenge from that loss and momentum for the tournament. Speaking of the postseason, Fitch drew the number 13 seed in the Canton District and will open on the road at 14-7 Canton GlenOak on Feb. 28. It wasn't exactly the sectional showdown Beany was looking to get, but he does see one silver lining in playing the Eagles.

"The good thing is that we already played GlenOak once," he said. "We started out well (in that game won by the Eagles 71-46) then their size and athleticism took over in the second half. It's hard to coach against size and athleticism so we need to take advantage of all of our opportunities and give ourselves a shot in the end."

If Fitch springs this upset, it will move into the sectional finals to play either North Canton Hoover or Uniontown Lake. Coach Beany was very practical when discussing his team's chances of eliminating the Eagles.

"(The tournament) is a one and done environment," Beany said. "Anything can happen."

 
 

 

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