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AUSTINTOWN OH- In the final game of the regular season, The Austintown Fitch Falcons welcomed in The Alliance Aviators with this particular bout taking to the skies for game #22. Both teams brought a ton of athleticism to the table. Since beating Alliance in the playoffs in 2017, Fitch had not been able to secure a win against The Aviators heading into Friday night. Fitch was also, subsequently, looking for their first winning season since the 2015-16 campaign. Alliance, a member of The Eastern Buckeye Conference (EBC), shared the conference championship with The Carrollton Warriors, sporting a 9-1 record in-conference. While Fitch was nestled in the middle of The All American Conference (AAC), bowed to co-conference champions this year in The Warren Harding Raiders and The Canfield Cardinals. With both teams representatives of tough basketball conferences, they looked for equally tough competition, especially prior to the start of the tournament.

The first quarter saw both teams filled with energy, making it seem like they were both shot out of cannon with the speed in which they played with. Both squads played a really good brand of team basketball offensively by distributing the points amongst multiple scorers through the first eight minutes. Alliance ended up a bucket better after one, leading Fitch 15-13. However, The Aviators turned on the turbo jets in the second, reaching their cruising altitude, out scoring The Falcons 16-8 in the second and taking a 10 point lead into halftime! Rahmir Hawkins and Diego Allen were tone setters on offense in the second, each scoring 5 points in the quarter for Alliance to help stretch The Aviators lead. 

Like so many times prior this season, Fitch looked to mount a second half comeback against a tough opponent. The third quarter was a highlight show of selfless basketball and everyone contributing on the team for Austintown. The law of averages fell back in favor of The Falcons, with a 20 point quarter, four Falcons (Gianni Maley, Marcel Finkley, Allen Hill and Carter Owens) each scored two buckets in the quarter! Softening the offensive blow, was The Aviators J.R. Jackson, who scored 7 points in the third to help keep Alliance in front 44-41 at the end of three. By the start of the fourth, tension began to rise throughout the gymnasium and both fan bases were holding on to every shot, dribble and pass. A back-and-forth battle ensued with both teams exchanging the lead like a game of hot potato. However, the offense from Fitch stayed the same from the third and The Falcons were able to push ahead late by a couple possessions. Alliance never quit fighting, getting some major buckets and going to the free-throw line in the waning moments of the ballgame. But it was the big shots by DeShawn Vaughn that helped turn momentum into The Falcons favor and Carter Owens nailed four shots at the stripe to help put the win on ice for Fitch! The 60-56 victory for Austintown allowed them to finish with a 12-10 record with the 22nd hardest Division 1 schedule and a ton of momentum before the tournament!

The loss for Alliance (14-8) will see The Aviators refocus as they will host a home playoff matchup at The Hangar, with the winner of #14 Canton South vs. #22 Geneva going to #3 Alliance in Division 2, Northeast 1 (Canton District)on Friday, February 24th for a 7 p.m. tip-off. Following the win Fitch (12-10) will also await to see their who their opponent will be in the Division 1 Northeast 1 (Kent District) as they will face the winner of #7 GlenOak vs. #18 Uniontown Lake. #16 Fitch will either host if Uniontown is victorious or hit the road if GlenOak wins. Either way, that matchup will occur on Saturday, February 25th also a 7 p.m. tip-off. Interviews with winning Head Coach Brian Beany and Player of The Game DeShawn Vaughn can be found below! 


Scoring (Fitch)

DeShawn Vaughn: 8 PTS (Player of The Game)

Gianni Maley: 16 PTS.

Carter Owens: 14 PTS.

Marcel Finkley: 12 PTS.

Allen Hill: 8 PTS.

Allex Hill: 2 PTS.


Scoring (Alliance)

Diego Allen: 15 PTS.

J.R. Jackson: 12 PTS.

Brendan Zurbrugg: 8 PTS.

Rahmir Hawkins: 7 PTS.

Darius Rodriguez: 5 PTS.

K’Vaughn Davis: 4 PTS.

Marquavian McClendon: 3 PTS. 


Scoring by Quarter

Q1: Fitch 13 – 15 Alliance

Q2: Fitch 8 – 16 Alliance

Q3: Fitch 20 – 13 Alliance

Q4: Fitch 19 – 12 Alliance

Final: Fitch 60 – 56 Alliance

*Contributed By YSN’s Ty Bartell.

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