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Fitch stymies Ursuline for 55-28 victory

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Austintown Fitch’s Lannie Henning puts up a jumpshot over an Ursuline defender during the Falcons’ victory Wednesday.

AUSTINTOWN — The Fitch defense was lockdown on Wednesday, smothering Ursuline in a 55-28 victory over the Irish to extend the Falcons’ win streak to five.

“Honestly, I’m a defensive guy, and I’m an energy guy at heart,” Fitch coach Dan Horacek said. “You will see me during the game, I’m pumping my fists, I’m getting after it and go watch my team do that tonight against a really good Ursuline basketball team that’s going to win games this year, is a great inspiration to a defensive guy. I’m so proud of them.”

Things were back-and-forth early through the contest, but Fitch edged out the Irish for a 19-10 lead after the first.

That’s when that lockdown defense took over.

Fitch held Ursuline scoreless for all but two seconds of the second quarter, a lone free throw conversion, while the Falcons added to their lead.

The Falcons would go on to limit Ursuline to a single two-point bucket in the final frame.

Ayla Ray led Fitch with 18 points. Rachel Spalding added 14.

For Ursuline, Lily Scott paced the team with 11.

Fitch senior Lannie Henning, who only tallied six points on the night, made her impact everywhere else. For an energy coach like Horacek, she’s everything he wants.

“Lannie is fantastic,” Horacek said. “She just keeps grinding and grinding. She’s such a hard worker. She’s there every day in the summer working on her game, lifting, always staying in shape. I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s a typical team-first girl, and we’re so lucky to have her on this team.”

A bonus for Fitch is that it has some players with a championship pedigree already, also playing on the state champion softball team.

“We’re starting to win basketball games, and we’re lucky because I have softball players that just came off the state championship. They know how to win,” Horacek said. “Ayla Ray already knows how to win. She’s here at the end of games, taking the ball to the basket when she knows how to put it in the basket. Right? That’s a winning play. We have multiple kids that are able to do those winning plays and you see it right now, we’re 5-1.”

Fitch travels to Kenston on Saturday to face the Bombers and continue the team’s now five-game win streak.

Ursuline (2-3) aims to get confidence in a road contest against Chaney.

For the Irish, reps and confidence are the exact thing they need. First-year coach LaVell Turnage is confident in the pieces he has, they just need to put things together.

“Reps is one of the biggest things and at the same time, it’s instilling a belief inside the girls,” Turnage said. “Once the girls believe, that’s half of the battle.”

byauger@tribtoday.com

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