By John Kovach
YOUNGSTOWN — After a lackluster start to this basketball season, the Austintown Fitch High girls team is poised to make a turnaround under first-year coach Stacie Cepin.
A big factor in that optimism is the comeback of Mariah Snowden, who returned to play Monday night at Youngstown Christian after being shelved because of a concussion.
Snowden scored 17 points, including three 3-point goals, and Fitch’s defense limited Youngstown Christian to only eight goals and only three players in the scoring column, as the Falcons rolled to a 55-19 victory at the Eagles’ gym.
“Snowden had a concussion and missed several games. She hasn’t played in awhile. She was hungry and did a lot of damage. She is very quick and has quick hands,” said Cepin, who believes Snowden’s comeback spells good news for Fitch (3-6).
“I sense that we are improving and Snowden’s return is a big factor.”
Sara Bell scored 11 points to lead Youngstown Christian, which fell behind at the half, 24-13, and then went scoreless in the third quarter before managing only six points in the final period.
The Eagles stayed close early in the game, trailing by only 14-10 early in the second quarter. But then Fitch went on a 10-point run, with Snowden delivering five of the points, for a 24-10 advantage just before intermission.
And then after Bell got a goal and free throw just before the half, the Falcons went on a 22-point run behind Anissa Hill, Erica Braxton and Byanca Henderson, to open a 46-13 lead early in the fourth.
“Our defense was up and that created a lot of deflections. We got a lot of steals and got most of our points off the defense,” said Cepin, a native of Campbell and former Campbell Memorial, Youngstown State and Alaska-Anchorage basketball player.
“Our strong defensive play contributed to our strong offensive play.”
In addition, “We had a lot of people rebounding, and so we were getting second shots.”
Braxton added eight points, Hill seven and Henderson six.
“It was a good team effort. We took care of the basketball,” said Cepin, who also lauded Braxton and Stephanie Berdis.
“Braxton was aggressive on the offensive end,” said Cepin. And, “Stephanie Berdis played a nice game.”