CORTLAND - It was as if Megan Sefcik was waiting for the opportune time to assert her dominance for the Austintown Fitch Falcons.
The moment arrived after consecutive field goals by Allie Pavlik of the Lakeview Bulldogs reduced the Falcons' lead to one point late in the third quarter. Sefcik, taking the cue perfectly, answered with a fielder. After a basket by teammate Cassie Custer, Sefcik ended the period with a 3-point shot to push the lead to eight points.
You could almost hear the air being deflated from the Bulldogs. Sefcik scored nine of her 26 points in the fourth quarter while Lakeview managed just two points as Austintown Fitch won the non-conference girls basketball game Monday night, 69-47.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Lakeview’s Allie Pavlik, right, drives to the basket while trying to maintain possession of the basketball against Austintown Fitch’s Cassie Custer on Monday in Cortland.
"We're known for our comebacks in the second half," Sefcik said. "We knew we had to step it up. A two-point game is too close for us in the second half. We changed our defense a little more and came out more aggressive."
The game within the game pitted the talents of Sefcik and Pavlik. Both showed why they're two of the best players in the area with impressive displays of scoring and passing. Pavlik scored 29 points in the first three quarters but was held scoreless in the final period.
The Bulldogs (12-5) wore down physically trying to keep up with the Falcons' fast-paced attack. Lakeview's only basket in the fourth quarter was by Calli Schmitt. Fitch (14-4) then scored 14 straight points.
"We played a great first half," Bulldogs coach Adam Lewis said. "I'm really proud of the girls' effort. They hit a big 3 to end the third quarter, and then they had a strong opening in the fourth quarter.
"We had no gas left. They put it on us real quick. We just didn't have any answers tonight."
The Falcons received solid performances to complement Sefcik's play. Custer had 10 points and Sarah Melfe scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
"Lakeview played a heck of a game, and they have a heck of a player in number 15 (Pavlik)," Falcons coach Stacie Cepin said. "We like to look at our game as each quarter at a time, and we like to wear people down with our defense. All our players did a good job with our team defense."
The Bulldogs successfully traded punches for most of three quarters. Pavlik had 11 points in the first period and seven more in the second.
The Falcons, who trailed 19-17 after the opening quarter, were more balanced in scoring in the first half in taking a 35-31 halftime advantage. Sefcik had 10 points, and Melfe finished the half with eight points.
"They (the Bulldogs) moved the ball really well," Cepin said. "They were more patient than we were (in the first half). We were taking too many quick outside shots. What we like to do is get some deflections and steals and get easy shots.
"We were settling for outside shots, and they weren't falling. In the second half we did better moving without the ball and getting (Sefcik) open. We chipped away in the third quarter and took over in the fourth."
Lakeview faced a tall order against a good Division I team, but Lewis didn't want to make excuses.
"I don't like to look at it like that, but they are a strong Division I," Lewis said. "They have the athletes that we don't necessarily match up with at every position. I'm proud of the way the girls played."
Lakeview is at Girard Thursday. Fitch travels to Howland Thursday.