Fitch squeaks past Harding, 41-40

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Brayleonna Woods, center, of Warren G. Harding tries to escape Fitch defenders Jada Lozaro, left, and Daria Williams in Wednesday night’s game.

WARREN — A back-and-forth battle came down to the final shot.

Austintown Fitch prevailed 41-40 over the Warren G. Harding girls Wednesday night when senior Camryn Constance made her only basket of the night. She made a 3-pointer from just outside the arc with 16 seconds remaining to give the Falcons the victory.

“It was a rough game. We didn’t play our best, but we came together,” Constance said. “I personally wasn’t shooting well the entire game. It was exciting at the end of the game. I just had to relax and focus. I took a deep breath and knocked it down when we really needed it.”

Harding got out on top early. They led 7-2 after a poor first quarter for Austintown. Harding led 13-9 midway through the second quarter before Fitch began to turn it around.

The Falcons went on a 10-1 run to take a 19-14 lead. The DiFrancesco sisters hit a couple big buckets to give Austintown a 20-16 halftime lead.

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Diamond Phillips (2) of Warren G. Harding shoots over Camryn Constance of Austintown Fitch Wednesday night at Harding.

Junior Sabria Hunter scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter. Fitch extended its lead and took a 34-27 advantage into the fourth quarter.

“We played a good game. There are a lot of things we need to work on confidence-wise. We’ve had a rough sequence recently in the last couple of games. We need to come together now, as we get toward the end of the season,” Hunter said.

The fourth quarter was a frantic finish. On three straight possessions the teams took turns nailing 3-pointers. First, Harding’s Brayleonna Woods, who scored a team-high 11, hit one to get within one at 34-33.

Fitch’s Gina DiFrancesco, who finished with 12, hit one of her three 3 pointers to make it 37-33. Harding’s Kamarah Bender answered back with one more to make it 37-36 Fitch. Each team hit a couple free throws and the game was tied at 38 apiece.

Harding’s Chiparis Alexander hit a clutch jumper with 50 seconds left to give the Raiders a 40-38 lead. On the next possession Constance hit her game-winner. Harding had one more opportunity with the ball, but Bender’s shot missed as time expired.

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Sabria Hunter of Austintown Fitch tries to get a shot off Wednesday night against a host of Warren G. Harding defenders.

“I’m real happy with the way our girls played. Our intensity level, getting under control on offense rather than always pushing it,” Harding coach Frank Caputo said. “It was a defensive game. Trying to stop Hunter for four quarters is a pretty hard task. It was a fun game.”

“Warren played very hard tonight. Hats off to Warren. Coach Caputo does a good job with those girls. They’re young and scrappy,” Fitch coach Dan Schnurrenberger. “We had a hard time staying in front of them. We struggled shooting from the outside. We were very fortunate to get a win tonight. We did what it took. We made a couple shots down the stretch.”

Freshman Diamond Phillips had a nice game for Harding, scoring 10.

Harding drops to 9-5 on the season. Austintown Fitch improves its record to 10-7.