Green beats Austintown Fitch
The Austintown Fitch Falcons are going to have Dan Fanelly-sized nightmares for a long, long time.
The 6-foot-6 senior forward terrorized the Falcons from every direction in a 72-36 win in an Alliance Division I sectional championship game. With 26 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in less than three quarters of work, it only seemed like Fanelly was everywhere. The Green cheerleaders might agree, as he went crashing into them several times in the game while chasing loose balls or tumbling to the ground after being fouled.
Fanelly's 11 first-quarter points more than doubled Fitch's first frame output, and by the time he exited the contest prior to the end of the third quarter, his 26 points were still more than the Falcons (10-14) could muster in a 59-24 game at that point.
It wasn't until the 5:51 mark of the fourth quarter that Fitch matched Fanelly's output, and by that time, the lanky senior was enjoying the game from the bench with his fellow starters.
"Dan is a heck of a player, and he's a tough matchup for any team," Green coach Mark Kinsley said.
The Bulldogs (21-2) looked as if they took a lesson from the only team seeded above them in the district, Lake, and the close call the Blue Streaks had the night before against Canfield.
There would be no similar slow start for Green as its offense began clicking from the outset. Lobs inside to Fanelly and 6-foot-8 senior center Josh Pritchard worked to perfection, and the outside shooting of sophomore guard Austin Marciniak complimented the Bulldogs' inside game well.
"We had a good week off and a good week of practice," Kinsley said. "We were able to get off to a good start, especially defensively."
The only real "mistake" in the first quarter was Fanelly hanging on the rim a fraction of a second too long after driving the left baseline for a thunderous two-handed slam, earning a technical foul.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, that was the only real lapse Green would have all night. Kinsley pointed to a small stretch early in the second quarter when Fitch twice cut the lead to nine points, but they would get no closer and by the time Marciniak swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to close out the half, the Bulldogs were cruising at 33-13.
Kinsley noted the crisp ball movement and pinpoint passing his team displayed in the half, recording eight assists on 14 field goals en route to 60.8-percent shooting in the firs two quarters.
"That's when we're at our best, when we're moving the ball and sharing it, passing well," Kinsley added.
For the night, the Bulldogs shot 61.3 percent (27 of 44).
Page 2 of 2 - There would be no letdown in the second half even with the large lead as the edge grew to as many as 35 before Kinsley began substituting liberally. None of the Green starters played in the fourth quarter, giving them some well-deserved rest and a chance to take a breather before shifting their focus to a tough district semifinal matchup with third-seeded North Canton Hoover, a 91-67 winner against Kent Roosevelt in the night's other sectional final.
In addition to Fanelly's big night, Marciniak contributed 15 points and made 3 of 5 shots from long range to pace the Bulldogs to 5-of-11 marksmanship from behind the arc. Green also dominated the glass against the smaller Falcons, posting a 35-20 edge on the glass.
Junior guards Gabe Chepke and Michael Butcher led Fitch with eight points each.
Kinsley insisted there was no motivation for his team in being seeded second in the district behind Lake, a team it defeated in the regular season and posted a better overall record than.
"That's not something we've talked about at all or mentioned,” he said. “All we've said is that we need to go out and win three games here, and now we have one.”