PUNXSUTAWNEY — Entering Wedneseday night's contest with the DuBois Central Catholic Lady Cardinals without a victory, the Punxsy Lady Chucks basketball team did what it needed to do to secure its first win of the season with another solid defensive outing, holding DCC to eight points or fewer in each quarter en route to a 33-30 victory.
Although his team earned its first win of the season in its first game of the calendar year, Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said his team wasn't going to dwell on the win too long.
"Well, hopefully, it'll boost the girls' confidence, because we have another one coming up Friday night (against Clearfield) that will be very tough," he said after the game. "We went over there and lost in double overtime, and we know they're big. We need to be ready to play."
Punxsy's defensive effort was impressive, but Reitz also pointed out that his team needs to start taking advantage of the scoring opportunities its defensive play presents.
"Defensively, we've played well all year, and that's what has kept us in ball games," he said. "But on the offensive end, we're too tentative, and tonight, a few times, we were tentative when we had open looks to the basket and didn't take them. Hopefully, we start seeing those openings in the very near future and go to the hoop to get the basket."
With three-and-a-half minutes left in the game, the Lady Chucks trailed 28-26, but a jump shot from the corner by senior guard Alex Magill tied the game at 28.
After DCC's Alyssa Marchoni missed a pair of free throws at the other end, Punxsy's Taylor Newcome hit a three to give Punxsy a 31-28 lead on the shot that turned out to be the game-winner.
DCC's Aundrea Snyder answered quickly with a basket on a strong take, but Kylee Schaffer missed a free throw in the bonus situation. Although the Lady Cardinals grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds, they were unable to make another basket fall for the rest of the game.
After DCC turned the ball over on a traveling call with 1.3 seconds left before managing to put up a shot, Newcome hit a pair of free throws to seal the win and set the final at 33-30.
"It was a very nice win, and everyone contributed in many different ways," Reitz said. "We had come key steals, some key baskets at the right time and some key rebounds. Every girl did her part tonight, and that's nice to see. But we still need to be less tentative on the offensive end."
In the first three minutes of the game, Punxsy's defense had yet to clamp down, and it appeared as if the Lady Cardinals press would be the one that proved to be too much as they jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead on baskets by Marchoni, Snyder and Lauressa Gulvas — the only three DCC players to score on the evening.
Newcome hit a three to end the rally, though, and two minutes later, Magill hit another three to tie the game.
Gulvas hit a floater with 30 seconds left in the quarter to give DCC the lead at the first break, but Punxsy outscored the Lady Cardinals in each of the final three quarters to secure the win.
Punxsy's Ashley Reitz, Emily Horner and Lauren Giavedoni each scored twos in the second quarter, and Nicole DiPietro topped off the scoring with a three late in the frame to send Punxsy into the half tied at 16.
In the second half, Punxsy's defense turned up the pressure, and forced the Lady Cardinals into multiple turnovers via traveling and double dribble calls, while DiPietro scored five points to lead the Lady Chucks to a 24-22 lead after three.
"We got after them a little harder in the second half," coach Reitz said. "In the first half, we had a couple kids in foul trouble, and we kind of baked off with the pressure. But in the second half, we kept the pressure on the full 16 minutes and created some turnovers, and I think that was one of the big differences in the game."
DCC battled back to regain the lead in the fourth quarter with baskets by Gulvas and Marchoni, but a pair of DiPietro free throws tied the game again. After Gulvas and Magill traded baskets, the score was tied at 28 to set up the game-winner by Newcome.
Newcome led the Lady Chucks' balanced scoring attack with 11 points, while DiPietro trailed her by just one point with 10.
Magill had five points, and four other Lady Chucks put numbers on the board.
Gulvas was the game's leading scorer with 12. Marchoni followed with 11, and Snyder finished off DCC's scoring with seven.
The Lady Chucks junior varsity team also continued to frustrate its opponents with another impressive defensive outing and a 25-14 victory over DCC Wednesday night.
Punxsy's offense was on the ball in the first quarter, scoring 11 points and holding DCC to two, but the Lady Chucks scored just 14 more points throughout the final three quarters, forcing them to rely on their defensive strength.
Shaina Painter was the game's top-scorer with nine points, all of which came in the first half.
Anna Horner was next-best for Punxsy with six points and a tough defensive effort at point guard.
Junior varsity will tip off at 6 p.m. against Clearfield Friday at PAHS with the varsity game to follow at 7:30 p.m.