Turnovers doom Lady Chucks in 40-26 loss

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Too many turnovers can often be the recipe for disaster for most basketball teams, and the Lady Chucks proved that theory to be true Tuesday night during a 40-26 loss at home to Ligonier Valley.

Whether it was the Lady Rams' full-court press — a defense they employed the entire game — or a trapping defense in their own end, Punxsy continually gave the basketball away to the tune of 29 turnovers.

The Lady Chucks kept throwing the ball away, and with each turnover went Punxsy's chances of winning.

"Too many turnovers," Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said. "When you have turnovers, you don't get shots, and that cost us the game tonight."

The Lady Chucks (4-10) managed to cut the game to five points late in the second quarter and went into halftime trailing by six.

Both teams struggled heavily from the field to start the second half, as the squads combined for three baskets in the frame, pushing Ligonier Valley's lead to 28-20 entering the fourth quarter.

It was in that fourth quarter that Punxsy's turnover woes shined through once again, rarely giving itself any opportunity to set up any strong offensive looks.

Also working against Punxsy was the Lady Rams' quality shooting from the field during the frame, sparking an 8-0 run in the quarter to put the game out of reach for the Lady Chucks.

"We just have to eliminate turnovers," Reitz said. "We had 29 (turnovers). If you cut that in half, you get 15 more looks at the hoop. That's 15 more shots, and that will make a difference."

Early on, it appeared as though it was going to be a long night for Punxsy, as the Lady Rams couldn't miss from the field in the first quarter.

Ligonier Valley came out hot, jumping out to a 12-2 lead in a high-scoring first quarter. Punxsy slowly closed the gap, but the Lady Rams' fast start gave them a 20-10 lead at the end of one.

"(Ligonier Valley) has a very athletic team, and we just made bad decisions with the basketball at times," Reitz said. "With their athleticism, they were able to capitalize. We need to do a better job taking care of the ball, from the guards to the bigs.

"It's just something we have to keep working on," Reitz said. "But you have to give them credit. (Ligonier Valley) played hard for 32 minutes."

Punxsy abandoned its man-to-man defense to start the second quarter and went to a zone — a move that surprisingly enough shut down the Lady Rams.

Unfortunately for Punxsy, both teams went scoreless until Punxsy's Shawnna Crago banked in a layup with 3:25 left in the quarter.

Alex Magill followed with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to five points, and following a Ligonier Valley basket, Magill knocked down a second three-pointer to bring Punxsy back into the game.

The Lady Chucks had finally found a way to slow down the Lady Rams' powerful offense, but couldn't take full advantage due to the turnover issue.

"We wanted to make them shoot the ball from the outside," Reitz said. "We did a good job getting a hand in their face and checking out, limiting them to one shot."

Magill was the leading scorer for Punxsy with eight points, followed by Crago with seven. Jenna Reitz added three points, while Taylor Newcome chipped in a pair.

Crago and Reitz both finished with five rebounds.

For Ligonier Valley, Maddy Grimm led all scorers with 12 points, followed by Kristen Gabelt with 10.

Ligonier Valley also took care of Punxsy in the junior-varsity game, beating the Lady Chucks 37-27.