Fitch contained Isaiah Poindexter in the second half, enabling the Falcons to top Ursuline for their 11th win.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
AUSTINTOWN -- Austintown Fitch found a way to muzzle Ursuline's Isaiah Poindexter in the second half, as the Falcons rode the defensive tactics to a 56-45 victory in a Steel Valley Conference boys basketball game Friday night.
Poindexter scored 13 points in the second quarter to keep Ursuline within 27-23 at halftime. But Fitch, particularly Jason Aikens, held Poindexter to only two points in the second half, enabling the Falcons to pull away behind a balanced scoring attack.
Jason Aikens also starred on offense with a game-high 17 points, while Greg Mayes added 15 with 10 rebounds and Mark Aikens 10 points.
Fitch (11-4, 3-2) stayed tied for second place with Cardinal Mooney in the SVC behind Warren Harding (4-0).
"Our defensive pressure really picked up in the third quarter," said Fitch coach Gary Conroy. "We were playing a 1-on-1 basketball defense in the first half. In the third quarter, we played team defense and stayed close to Poindexter and made him work for his shots."
Conroy said Jason Aikens was the key element in the win.
"Jason Aikens stepped up his game for the second game in a row with his organizational team leadership," Conroy said. "He was the one guarding Poindexter and he made it tough on him."
Conroy added that Mem Sanders did a fine job in the third quarter going to the offensive glass.
Ursuline coach Steve Leslie said the Irish (6-11, 1-4) were unable to keep up with Fitch.
"We fumbled or dropped a lot of balls," Leslie said. "They made big baskets and we had opportunities but we didn't cash in."
Still, Leslie thinks his team has improved.
"The first time we played, it was no contest," said Leslie, whose team lost 53-32 in the teams' first meeting.
Leslie said the Irish did a decent job guarding Mayes and Poindexter's effort was a highlight.
"Poindexter did a great job in the second quarter," Leslie said. "He's a good player and he's our leader."
Poindexter plugged three 3-point goals among his 15 points, while Brandon Braxton added 12 points with seven rebounds to aid the Irish.
Fitch breaks away
Fitch, nursing that 27-23 lead at halftime, broke away in the third quarter behind Jason Aikens, Sanders and Mark Aikens. Jason Aikens had six points, Sanders had four and Mark Aikens added a 3-point goal to power a 15-6 run to a 42-29 advantage.
But in the fourth quarter, Walt Lacey's two goals sparked Ursuline to a 6-1 run that pulled the Irish to within 50-43 with 4:02 left.
Jason Aikens responded with a goal and two free throws and Mayes shot two foul shots to seal the game.