PUNXSUTAWNEY — The last time the Lady Chucks and the Clearfield Lady Bison basketball teams met each other Dec. 20, the game was a high-scoring affair that ended in double overtime with Clearfield outscoring Punxsy 60-55. Friday night, the two teams met again in another shootout-style game, and Punxsy's Taylor Newcome put up 36 points to help ensure that the Lady Chucks grabbed a 68-55 victory on their home court in the rematch.
"Taylor did a nice job on the offensive end tonight," Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said. "She shot the ball well from outside, and they she did a nice job of pump faking and going to the rack to finish. And the last thing she did was shoot her foul shots well."
Newcome's line was well-balanced with seven twos, four threes, and 10 free throws on 13 attempts — a sign she wasn't afraid to take the shots the Lady Bison were giving her.
After last game, Reitz said his team was struggling to find its offensive confidence and wasn't taking advantage of scoring opportunities that were presented. Friday night, he was more pleased with the team's effort.
"These girls have the athletic ability," he said. "It's just a matter of keeping the confidence up there that they can play with anybody. Hopefully, this will help as we continue the season, because we've got another tough week ahead of us with Purchase Line Monday and another league game (at Elk County) Wednesday."
Despite the fact Newcome managed such a high number, Reitz also pointed out that it wasn't just her performance that led to the win. It was a team effort.
Newcome jumped out to a quick start to her impressive evening by scoring Punxsy's first 10 points in the first quarter in a variety of ways.
Newcome's first two baskets were jump shots from the corner — one a three and one a two. She followed with a free throw earned by taking the ball strong to the lane after a pump fake and finished her 10 unanswered with two strong takes to the rim.
But despite Newcome's hot streak, Clearfield answered on the offensive end and outscored the Lady Chucks 17-12 in the first quarter.
Punxsy is known for playing a defensive-minded game, but Reitz said that a tall team like Clearfield can pick up some offensive rebounds, earn more scoring chances and force a team to adapt its game plan.
"They're big, and they're going to get some rebounds and second-chance points," he said. "So, we knew we'd have to score more than we have been in the past. Fortunately, we were able to do that. We knocked down some jump shots, and our bigs did a good job finishing in the lane. Even outside, our guards were pump faking and taking it to the lane. You could just see our confidence going up and up as the game continued."
In the second quarter, things started to fall into place for Punxsy, as the Lady Chucks seemed to transition into the more offensive-minded game plan.
Newcome had her highest-scoring quarter of the night with 15 on two threes, three twos and three free throws, and Emily Horner added four points to lead the Lady Chucks to a 21-18 second quarter to pull within two at halftime.
Things looked bleak for Punxsy with three minutes remaining in the half, though, as the Lady Bison had opened up a 31-19 lead.
Ten of Newcome's 15 second-quarter points came in the final three minutes of the half, though, and Punxsy's defense clamped down to narrow the gap.
Reitz said after the game the late run to bring the game back within reach did a lot for his team's confidence level.
"We had some defensive stops there in the second quarter, and we got some good looks at the basket," he said. "I think that gave us some good momentum going into halftime. When the girls came out, they felt more confident than when we started the game."
Punxsy's confident shooting early in the third quarter led to a 7-0 run to start the quarter and take a 40-35 lead behind two points from guards Alex Magill and Ashley Reitz and three from Newcome.
Just one minute into the third quarter, though, Reitz found herself in foul trouble after a questionable reach-in call, and freshman point guard Alyssa Reitz stepped in to handle the ball for the majority of the remainder of the game.
Alyssa Reitz's strong defensive pressure and a clutch three-pointer helped extend the Lady Chucks lead when Clearfield's pressure increased.
Although Clearfield narrowed the gap multiple times, Punxsy managed to maintain the lead throughout the quarter, and led 49-45 after three.
Newcome nailed a three to kick off the fourth-quarter scoring, and from that point forward, the Lady Chucks controlled the game despite several trips to the line for the Lady Bison.
When it came time for Clearfield to foul, Punxsy's foul shooters answered to the pressure with Magill hitting two pairs of late free throws and Newcome going 3-for-4 from the line in the final two minutes.
Despite the impressive performance by Newcome, Reitz also wanted to point out that it was a full team effort to earn the victory Friday night.
"Our other kids did a nice job of finding Taylor in the open areas tonight," he said. "It's always a team effort, and the kids are pretty happy to get this one. We just need to keep building on the positive things, and each practice, we need to keep working hard."
The action wasn't limited to the varsity game Friday night, though, as those who arrived early enough were treated to a come-from-behind 27-26 victory by the Lady Chucks JV squad.
Punxsy's Shaina Painter led the scoring for the game with 13 points, but her teammate Emily Reitz stole the spotlight when with five seconds left on the clock and the Lady Chucks trailing by two, she hit a three to give the Lady Chucks a 27-26 lead.
Punxsy had gained an early advantage with suffocating defensive pressure to lead 9-2 after the first quarter.
Clearfield answered back, though, by outscoring Punxsy 9-4 in the second quarter to cut Punxsy's lead to two at halftime.
Another close period saw Punxsy extend its lead by just one point in the third, and despite a late push by the Lady Bison, Reitz's basket proved to be enough when Anna Horner intercepted a deep inbound pass with two seconds on the clock and let it expire.
Behind Painter's 13, Reitz was the team's next-highest scorer with six.
Rachael Barnett added four, and Horner and Amber Ward each scored a basket to round out the Lady Chucks' 27.
Up next for both squads is an out-of-league game against Purchase Line Monday night.