Mooney's Aieshya Dixon and Fitch's Kim Buhro led their teams with 15 points apiece.
By GARY HOUSTEAU
YOUNGSTOWN -- In a similar outcome to the first meeting of the season between these two Steel Valley Conference rivals, it was the home team that came away with a two-point victory.
Cardinal Mooney held off Austintown Fitch in the fourth period Wednesday to earn a 43-41 victory.
Aieshya Dixon, who had team-highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds, looked like she put the game away for good with 56 seconds remaining.
She stole the ball, drove the length of the court, missed a contested lay-in, rebounded her own shot and converted the put-back, and was fouled, to give Mooney a 41-34 lead.
However, Dixon missed the free throw and Fitch continued to battle, out-scoring the Cardinals 7-2 down the final stretch, but it wasn't enough.
"Fitch is a very good basketball team, with four seniors on the floor, and [Kim] Buhro's one of the best players in the league," Mooney coach Roy Nard said.
Buhro also scored 15 points; to help keep Fitch in the game early, she tossed in eight points in the first quarter and had 12 of her team's 19 before the intermission. After being up by eight on a couple of occasions in the second quarter, Mooney led by six at halftime.
"We tried to control her and then control either [Cassie] Williams or [Megan] Geidner, whichever one was hot," said Nard. "We tried to be a little bit patient on offense, get the ball inside to Dixon when we could, and hope [Karla] Fedina or [Lori] Patrone could get some outside shots."
Williams, who was 3-of-4 from behind the arc, hit one of her 3s with 30.6 seconds remaining in the game to pull Fitch within four, while Geidner scored all six of her points in the second half.
But it was Katie McDermott who got hot late in the game and scored five of the last eight points for the Falcons before time ran out.
Acceptable effort: "I was pleased with our effort to come back; I thought our kids really tried to execute down the stretch," said Fitch coach Mary Ann McGahagan. "Sometimes you get yourselves too far down and you can't always bring out that 'W,' but I was pleased with how we executed toward the end of the ball game."
Fitch had 20 turnovers, which McGahagan said was an important factor, as was the Cardinals' 29-26 edge in rebounds.
"Turnovers did hurt us; I think a couple of missed opportunities blocking out hurt us, and a couple of times where we got out of position defensively," she said.
Patrone and Fedina scored eight and nine points, respectively, for Mooney.