Kevin Johnson had a double-double as the Falcons defeated Warren JFK.
By GREG GULAS
AUSTINTOWN -- Kevin Johnson had 13 points and Terrell Eargle added 12 as the Austintown Fitch High boys basketball team defeated Warren John F. Kennedy, 57-41, Saturday at the Falcon gymnasium. Johnson also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds as he registered a double-double, allowing the Falcons to snap a two-game tailspin while improving to 4-5 in their last nine outings.
"We try to keep it team-oriented and stress team play, but if we gave a game ball out, that recipient tonight would be Kevin Johnson," Falcon coach Gary Conroy said.
"We have had a problem all season long in the third quarter, and that is when he stepped up his game the most," Conroy said. "His play helped us to keep the margin we felt that we needed heading into the final period."
Lackluster shooting: The Falcons (10-6) benefited from lackluster free throw shooting by Warren JFK (8-9). The Eagles connected on just 9-of-23 free throws and were 2-of-13 through the first three quarters.
"I was disappointed in our free throw shooting tonight," Eagle coach John Condoleon said. "When you play good teams you have to do the little things right, and connecting on your free throws is one of those little things.
"We are a tired team and it showed tonight," he added. "We'll take this game and forget about it, simply because we have played really well of late."
Early lead: Rob Patzak hit two long-range shots in the opening period as he staked the Falcons to a 15-6 lead, which they held throughout the game. Shawn Barber added five points in the second stanza as the Falcons outscored the Eagles 11-7 to take a 26-13 advantage at halftime.
In the first half, the Falcons were 10-of-26 from the field while holding Warren JFK to just 6-of-18, out-rebounding their Trumbull County opponents 18-14 during the first 16 minutes.
"Winning the battle of the boards is obviously a key to any basketball game," Conroy said. "We've won that battle all but one time this season, and that time we tied with our opponent in that category.
"At halftime we emphasized that we must stay in front of them and continue the pressure," Conroy said. "We didn't stress rebounding as we felt we would hold our own in that department."
Held their own: The Eagles held their own in the third period, outscoring the Falcons 14-13 to cut the lead to 39-27. Keith Black scored six of his game-high 16 points in the quarter.
When Jason Aikens connected on a jumper at the 3:35 mark of the final period, it gave the Falcons a 50-36 lead. Fitch's last seven points then came at the foul line, where the Eagles were an improved 7-of-10 in the period.
The Falcons canned 20-of-46 field goal attempts while holding the Eagles to 15-of-29 from the field. Fitch out-rebounded Warren JFK 37-23, with Greg Mayes adding 11 caroms to go along with his nine points.