DIV. I Patience, 'D' carry Falcons
By BOB ROTH
CANTON -- The Austintown Fitch High basketball team snapped a four-game tournament losing streak Tuesday with a 57-43 win over Canton GlenOak in a Division I sectional semifinal game at the Canton Civic Center.
Fitch (13-8) will play third-seeded North Canton Hoover (13-7) Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Falcon force: After the Golden Eagles opened a 5-2 lead in the first minute, Falcons senior Kevin Johnson put the Falcons ahead with two buckets.
Johnson scored another basket, while Rob Patzak hit a long-range 3-pointer and Jason Aikens made a traditional three-point play in the Falcons' 14-0 run.
Johnson scored 13 of his game-high 15 points in the first half as the Falcons made 16-of-25 attempts to open a 34-25 lead.
Fitch's patient offense combined with a defense that did not allow many second shots for a 57-39 lead.
"It is great to get a tournament win," Fitch coach Gary Conroy said. "Tonight, for a change, we had four good quarters.
"Johnson got us going early and the rest of the kids picked up on his confidence."
About Hoover, Conroy said, "Our goal is a sectional championship, but the concept for that game will be the same, one game and one quarter at a time."
Johnson was 7-of-14 from the floor with seven rebounds and two of Fitch's seven blocked shots.
Player comments: "We wanted to jump on them from the start, and knowing they had nothing to lose we needed to come out strong," Johnson said.
Senior guard Patzak, who was 2-of-4 from 3-point range, scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds while making four assists and three steals.
Jason Aikens, a 6-0 junior, came off the Fitch bench to score 11 points and make two assists and three steals.
Falcons junior Greg Mayes had eight points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.