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Next: Girard at Struthers, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.
By Jim Flick
After playing almost even-up basketball in the first half, Austintown Fitch ambushed the Girard Indians in the second half to capture a 68-41 victory Wednesday night.
Fitch (3-0) was led by freshman Megan Sefcik, who scored 23 points. Mariah Snowden, a senior, tallied 13 points for the Falcons, while junior Anissa Hill added 11 points and led the team with five assists.
Sophomore Brenda Thompson grabbed eight rebounds to lead Austintown Fitch on the boards.
Girard’s was led by Katelynne Brainard, a senior, who scored 14 points while snagging a game-high 14 rebounds. Lindsay Durkin added nine points for the Indians.
Girard kept it close in the first half, trailing only 33-31 at halftime. But Austintown Fitch’s defense stifled Girard’s offense in the second half, limiting the Indians to only 10 points.
In fact, the Falcons nearly shut out the Indians in the fourth quarter, limiting Girard to only a single basket. Fitch outscored Girard 35-10 in the second half, including a 12-2 edge in the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of our performance tonight,” Austintown Fitch coach Stacie Cepin said. “Hopefully, we’ll just continue to get better.”
Cepin said she wasn’t surprised that a freshman led Fitch to a resounding victory. Sefcik “loves to be in the gym. She works so hard, and she’s unselfish.”
Girard coach Andy Saxon said, “In the first half, I thought we played pretty well. But in the second half, we just fired up shots and didn’t play our offense.”
Saxon described the Indians’ second-half play as “helter skelter.”
Brainard played an outstanding game, Saxon added. “She’s a tough girl to defend.” The coach said Brainard is both tough under the boards and a good shooter.
“We didn’t give up tonight,” Saxon said. “Fitch is a tough team. This was a good experience for us.”
Hill scored the first points of the game for Fitch, firing home a 3-pointer. After Brainard scored her first points of the night on a pair of free throws, Hill tossed in a second basket of the night to put Austintown Fitch ahead 5-2.
But Girard stormed back, and led 13-10 after Brainard scored on a jumper. That was the last time the Indians held a lead.
Thompson scored to put Austintown Fitch in front 15-13 late in then first quarter. At the end of the first stanza, Fitch led 18-13.
Brainard blocked a shot early in the second quarter as the Indians kept it close. Girard pulled to within one point, 32-31, when Durkin connected on a long jumper late in the second quarter.
But led by Sefcik, Fitch quickly pulled away from Girard. A 3-pointer by Sefcik late in the third quarter put the Falcons in front 53-39.