In a rematch between two programs filled with great athletes, The Austintown-Fitch Falcons welcomed in The Massillon-Washington Tigers on Friday night! The last time the two schools squared off was back on September 23rd on the gridiron. The Tigers came away with a victory that night 49-28. Approximately 84 days later, the two schools met on the hardwood.
Consisting in a fair amount of back and forth scoring throughout the first half, Chris Knight of The Tigers, was a deadeye from distance, nailing down three triples in the first half alone! Washington’s Eli Farrington also established his presence from all areas of the court, impressively working from the inside, from the block to the elbow, eventually finding his shot from 20 feet out!
The Falcons had a response, in the form of Gianni Maley and his mid-range shot that was, quite simply, unstoppable! While Maley had a great night scoring, he also was the motor for Fitch’s offense as the senior primarily handled the ball and distributed it nicely, ensuring the ball was always moving. The efforts from Maley in the first half enabled Austintown to cut their deficit by halftime, with Massillon leading 28-24.
Fitch utilized defense to dictate the tone to start the second half. Using their deepest bench of the season yet, The Falcons rotated eight players, consistently, throughout the night with all of them seeing significant time in the second half of play. Outscoring The Tigers 16-10 in the third quarter, Austintown made good on the turnovers they were able to force with fastbreak scores that spearheaded the comeback push in the second 16 minutes.
Having to deal with foul trouble to start the fourth quarter, Fitch had Massillon on the cusp of the single bonus to start the fourth. Also, The Falcons freshmen big Allen Hill, who was having a productive defensive night, fouled out in the final quarter of play. However, a combined effort from Cecil Fidram, who was called on to start the game and Cam Jaros, who both stepped up on the defensive end, as well as the rebounding department.
During crunch time, in the final minutes of the fourth, Marcel Finkley showed why he is a cold man! With ice in his veins, confidence in his heart and determination in his eyes, Finkley found the bottom of the net to put Fitch up 48-47! The Falcons defense came up big once again, forcing a turnover and subsequently forcing Washington to send Austintown to the free-throw stripe.
That is when Carter Owens was tasked with salting the game away. “The Perfect 10” had the perfect release, twice, on the 1-and-1 opportunity. Thus giving Fitch a little breathing room, leading 50-47 with 2.4 ticks left in the game. One final defensive stop from The Falcons was all that was needed as they prevented The Tigers from taking a game-tying shot to walk away with the slim three point win!
The win sends Fitch (4-1) to game three of a brutal five game stretch. As they will head to Canton GlenOak (5-0) on Tuesday, December 20th. Interviews with Gianni Maley, Marcel Finkley and Head Coach Brian Beany can be found below!
Gianni Maley: 21 PTS.
Marcel Finkley: 14 PTS.
Carter Owens: 6 PTS.
Trevor Fidram: 5 PTS.
Allen Hill: 4 PTS.
Eli Farrington: 23 PTS.
Chris Knight: 19 PTS.
Carlen Greene: 3 PTS.
Drew Stitt: 2 PTS.
Scoring by Quarter
Q1: Fitch 8 – 7 Massillon
Q2: Fitch 16 – 20 Massillon
Q3: Fitch 16 – 10 Massillon
Q4: Fitch 10 – 9 Massillon
Final: Fitch 50 – 47 Massillon
*Contributed By YSN’s Ty Bartell