ST. MARYS — St. Marys senior guard Kayla Hoohuli once again proved why she could go down as one of the best female basketball players in District IX history Monday night, scoring 46 points during the Lady Dutch's 57-48 victory over Punxsutawney.
Punxsy threw everything it had at Hoohuli, but she still scored all but 11 of her team's points while helping St. Marys dispatch a 14-5 deficit. Hoohuli was strongest down the stretch, going 8-of-10 from the free-throw line while providing her team with a 17-13 final quarter to extend upon a 40-35 lead after three.
"Kayla really played tough. She hit some off-balance shots," Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said. "We tried to keep the rest of the team's points down, but in doing that, Kayla ended up with 46."
Punxsy (3-9, 0-3 District IX League) led 14-5 after the first quarter, but its lead was trimmed to 26-20 by halftime. During the second half, the Lady Dutch (12-1, 4-1) outscored Punxsy 37-22.
"The kids played hard. St. Marys executed more on the offensive end in the second half than we did," Reitz said. "Overall, we executed better on the offensive end (than in past games). Defensively, we didn't play quite as well."
Punxsy senior forward Shawnna Crago — the tallest player on the court — dominated in the low post, scoring a team-best 21 points and pulling down 15 rebounds.
"Shawnna played well. We did a nice job of getting her the ball inside, and she finished for us," Reitz said. "She's a little bigger and stronger than St. Marys' post kids."
Senior Parris Kernich added 11 points. It was her second double digit scoring effort in three games.
"Parris is playing better basketball for us," Reitz said. "She's feeling a little bit more comfortable in the post position, and girls are finding her."
Taylor Newcome scored seven points, and Jenna Reitz had six points.
The game came down to offensive execution, especially during the second half. While Hoohuli continued to pile up the points during the second half, Punxsy's offensive production slowed down.
Simply put, if a team isn't ahead during the final quarter against Hoohuli and St. Marys, she's going to handle the ball and get to the free-throw line. On the charity stripe, she's more than likely to connect.
"We have to do a better job of executing down the stretch," coach Reitz said. "When St. Marys has the lead, it goes into Kayla's hands, and you have to foul. She steps up and hits the foul shots."
Punxsy is in danger of dropping to 0-4 in the league if it loses to Bradford Friday, but coach Reitz said a win's a win and his team needs to start earning some right now.
"We just need a win. They're all important," he said. "We're going to work on getting ready for Bradford the next couple of days."
A year after going 4-18, the Lady Owls are off to a 7-4 start this season.
"They're very quick," coach Reitz said. "They have some good athletes, and they're going to full-court press you. We're going to have to be able to handle it."