Fitch girls win tournament opener
Fitch will meet
By Greg Gulas
For just the second time in 10 years, the Austintown Fitch girls basketball team survived a tournament game.
Sabria Hunter scored a game-high 27 points and Camryn Constance added 17 as the seventh-seeded Falcons defeated former Federal League foe Massillon Perry 58-49 in a Division I sectional semifinal Saturday.
Fitch will now travel to Canton GlenOak on Thursday to meet the second-seeded Golden Eagles at 7 p.m. for a sectional title.
The Falcons’ last tournament win came in 2013 and Hunter said that their hard work is finally paying off.
“It feels really great to get a tournament win because we’ve all worked so hard to get to this point. Now is the time for us to stick together and build off of this win,” she said. “The game plan was to shut down their offensive threat, Rylee Pireu, then work the others and keep them in check.”
While the Panthers (4-19) didn’t have an answer for Hunter and Constance’s offensive output, the Falcons (15-8) struggled to keep Pireu in check as she finished with 26 points, including 16 in the first half.
Taking on the favored Golden Eagles next doesn’t seem to faze Hunter.
“I feel as though everyone thinks we’re the underdogs, but we aren’t intimidated,” Hunter said. “We’ll continue to work hard as we prepare for Canton GlenOak and just be ready to go on Thursday.”
Two buckets by Hunter and back-to-back 3-pointers from Jada Lazaro staked Fitch to an early 10-2 lead, building a 13-7 margin midway through the period on Hunter’s three-point play.
That’s when Pireu took over, scoring Perry’s next 10 points as the Panthers closed on a 10-0 run to open a 17-13 advantage heading to the second period.
Hunter proceeded to score the first 13 points of the second quarter and Fitch closed with a 10-5 run for a 29-24 halftime lead.
The Falcons never trailed again.
“Sabria earns every bucket that she makes,” Falcons head coach Dan Schnurrenberger said. “Sometimes she is double- and even triple-teamed, but goes strong to the hoop because she works hard every time she gets the ball. This is a very special win because traditionally we haven’t done very well in the tournament. We talked from the very first day of practice that you earn your wins, especially the big ones and today was a big win. Having a good week of practice really helped.”
While Hunter dominated the first half by scoring 20 of her team’s 29 points, Constance took control of the third quarter by scoring Fitch’s first 12 points — all from beyond the arc — as the Falcons took a 45-37 lead after three quarters.
“My teammates always seem to find me at the right time and after I made my first 3, I felt hot,” Constance said.
She said Hunter set the tone early.
“Sabria always works hard and gets the job done,” Constance said. “She did an absolutely great job at both ends of the court the entire game.”
A Constance bucket with 2:52 remaining gave Fitch a 49-45 lead and the Falcons outscored the Panthers 9-4 the rest of the way with all of their points coming at the foul line to seal the sixth win in their last seven outings.
“Camryn is a senior and she came up big for us today,” Schnurrenberger said. “You need seniors to step up and this was her moment. She deserves that.”
With the win, the Falcons conclude the season 9-2 at home.