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Falcons play tight defense and beat Harding 50-44
February 7, 2018

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Prior to this season, Fitch boys basketball head coach Brian Beany preached that the best way for his club to be successful was by playing tight defense.

That is exactly what Beany's boys have been doing better lately and it has improved the fortune of the Fitch outfit. Although the Falcons have lost two of their past three games, a 50-44 win over Warren Harding on Jan. 30 proved that Beany's philosophy may be true.

"It was a great win for us," Beany said. "Any time we play Harding we know we're going to be in for a fight. We played great defense, especially in the paint against their big guys."

Fitch's best defense came when it needed it most. Down 39-38 entering the final quarter, the Falcons turned the up the pressure and went on a 12-5 fourth period run to avenge a 68-47 loss to the Raiders in December.

"We played better defense than we did against (Harding) in the first game," Beany said. "Our match-up zone was effective. This is the same type of defense we're going to need in the tournament because I figure we'll get a team that is bigger than us in the first round."

While strong defense is very important, a team also needs to put in some points if it is going to be victorious. Against the Raiders, the Falcons shot much better than they have in previous contests. The Falcons nailed five 3-pointers, including two by Chris Brown. Randy Smith paced Fitch with 12 points, but it may have been Blake Baker who was the biggest offensive star for the Falcons last Tuesday and it had nothing to do with what he did from the field.

"Baker came up big in the fourth quarter from the foul line going 8 for 9," said Beany. "Our foul shooting (in the fourth quarter) was the difference."

The improved shooting night by the Falcons was something Coach Beany wants to see continue. Fitch did hold Howland and Canfield to just 93 points combined in two losses before the Harding win, but the Falcons couldn't even get to 75. That low output won't do the Falcons well in March.

"The name of the game is to still put the ball in the hoop," Beany said. "We still need to work on that."

Meanwhile, Beany's bunch will carry out the defensive lessons they learned back in November. After all, it was the way this team was put together.

"This isn't like college where you can recruit kids to fit your system," Beany said. "We fit our system around our kids. We knew our 3-2 match-up zone was the best way for us to go. And maybe some of our pressure will lead us to easy scoring opportunities."

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