Lady Chucks fall to undefeated Bradford

BRADFORD — A young Punxsy squad did everything it could this season, making improvements and changes on its way to the District IX Class AAA semi-finals.

But Friday, the Lady Chucks (9-14) met a match they could not handle in the undefeated Bradford (23-0), and the Lady Owls advanced to the championship 54-26.

"Their overall strength (was the difference)," Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said. "Bradford is very athletic and very strong."

From the opening quarter, during which Punxsy was outscored 13-8, the young team struggled to keep the game competitive.

"We got some good looks; we just weren't able to shoot the ball very well against their 2-3 zone (defense)," Reitz said. "(Bradford) goes down and cover the shooters, and they did a nice job covering the post people."

By halftime, the Lady Chucks were trailing 25-14. And although their defense was strong in the final stanza, holding Bradford to just 10, it was too little, too late.

With the victory, the Lady Owls advanced to the D-IX championship, which will take place Saturday night at Clarion University.

Although the Lady Chucks' season ended in disappointment, Reitz said he is proud of his team, and he tried to encourage the girls in the locker room following the game.

"I said, 'It's been a very good season,'" Reitz said. "They've really improved from the start of the season to the end. They've worked hard, and they've competed, and I've enjoyed coaching them this season."

The leading scorer for Punxsy was Alyssa Reitz, who sunk three three-pointers for nine points, and she was followed closely behind by Taylor Newcome, who had six. Senior Alex Magill notched four points, while Nicole DiPietro scored three. Jensen Constantino and Ashley Reitz rounded out the scoring for Punxsy with two points each.

Competing and battling back has been a key to success for the Lady Chucks this season, and coach Reitz said that did not change in the semi-final game.

"They hate to lose; they compete for 32 minutes," Reitz said. "They want to get better and win. They know if they play hard, and they're improving, then winning will take place."

The biggest difference between the first game and the last was the Lady Chucks' ability to work as a team, according to Reitz.

"Our confidence got better as the year went on, ... and we started to play as a team about halfway through the year," Reitz said. "We learned each other's abilities, and we moved better with the ball, and that just comes with experience."

As the only senior on the team, the Lady Chucks' most experienced player, Magill, played in her last Punxsy basketball game, and Reitz said she will be sorely missed.

"She's been a team leader; she's worked very hard," Reitz said. "It's been a joy to coach her for the last three years. We're going to miss her."

Because the Lady Chucks is full of young talent, Reitz said he is very hopeful for the future of the Punxsy basketball program.

"If they keep working, we'll have three very good, solid years," he said. "We have a lot of bright spots and a lot of young kids that bring different attributes."