AUSTINTOWN - West Branch point guard Melinda Trimmer emerged from the locker room last, physically spent, with a glum expression worn across her face. The only evidence that this was a special night was the ball she used to score her 1,000th career point resting in her right arm.
Trimmer joined an elite group in West Branch history Monday, but she did so on an evening when the Warriors fell 53-47 in a physical, intense game at Autsintown Fitch. For the junior floor leader individual achievement meant little compared to team success.
"I would never have scored 1,000 points without my teammates," Trimmer said. "It was a special moment, but it hurts really bad right now to know that my teammates are hurting. I wanted the win more than anything."
West Branch falls to 16-4 overall, while Fitch improves to 17-1. On a night when her normal passing options were eliminated by the Fitch defense, Trimmer was forced to carry the scoring load herself, finishing with 24 points and seven rebounds. She had only one assist entering the fourth quarter before finishing with four. "Points mean nothing to Melinda," West Branch coach Walt DeShields said. "She gets more excitement out of passing the ball to her teammates and making them better than she does scoring for herself. She would trade all of those points tonight for a win."
After being held scoreless for much of the first quarter, Trimmer got things rolling with a six-point burst in the final minute, highlighted by a steal and coast-to-coast layup. She crossed the 1,000 point barrier on a driving scoop shot with 5:02 left in the second quarter to pull the Warriors within 21-17.
"It was a team accomplishment," Trimmer said. "I'm very blessed to have this team around me. They support me no matter what happens."
Trimmer now has 1,015 points for her career.
Pavin Heath finished with eight points for the Warriors, while Taryn Hahn and Amanda Linhart each finished with six assists. Trimmer was frustrated all night long by a wave of taller defenders that made it tough for her to get the ball. When she did, her court vision was impaired and she was unable to influence the game with her passing,
"Fitch did a great job denying the entry pass," Trimmer said. "They made it really tough to get the ball to my teammates. I give a lot of credit to them."
"She (Trimmer) sees the floor as good as anyone in this area," Fitch coach Stacie Cepin said. "We were obviously keying on her all night."
Falcon senior guard-and Akron recruit-Megan Sefcik made her influence felt all over the floor with 16 points four steals, four blocks and tight defense. Sarah Melfe finished with 11 points and five rebounds. The game was intense and back and forth from the start, but the Falcons looked on the verge of pulling away when they took a 45-35 lead with 4:34 to go.
"Fitch played a great defensive game and showed a lot of moxie tonight," DeShields said. "They beat us up inside a little bit."
The Warriors had enough left in the tank for a final 12-4 charge to pull within two with 44 seconds to go. Trimmer scored seven of the points and assisted on the other five. However, Fitch got the breathing room it needed on the next possession with a jumper from Carlie Chepke.
"We really hustled on defense to force some turnovers and get back in the game," Trimmer said. "Unfortunately it wasn't enough."