JVs win third of last four, improve to 9-5 this season
DUBOIS — The Punxsutawney-DuBois rivalry has eclipsed decades, and if there is one thing a fan of either squad can expect, it's a close, rugged contest between the teams every time they meet.
Although the Lady Chucks and Lady Beavers basketball teams found themselves at the bottom of the District-IX standings entering Thursday night's contest in DuBois, both squads came out anxious to earn a victory in the saga's latest chapter.
And the Lady Chucks did just that with a 33-25 victory over the Lady Beavers.
"I knew we'd have to win on the road with defense, and we did that all night," Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said. "We gave up 25 points on the road with very solid defense. We had a couple mental breakdowns where we didn't talk, but overall, that's probbaly the best defense we've played all season."
The game started out a defensive slugfest, just as could be expected between the two teams to anyone familiar with the rivalry.
The first two minutes made it seem as if the contest might be a shootout, with DuBois' Katelyn LaBue scoring the game's first point by knocking down half of a pair of free throws.
Punxsy sophomore guard Taylor Newcome answered with a quick three to give Punxsy an early 3-1 lead, but a pair of free throws by the Lady Beavers' Casey Wilcox evened the score in the game's second minute.
Neither team scored for the next five minutes as both defenses clamped down to force poor shot opportunities on both ends.
Amidst the defensive stops, Punxsy's sharp shooter, Newcome, picked up her second foul, forcing her to the bench earlier than usual.
Nicole DiPietro broke the scoreless spell with a layup on a great hustle play, beating her defender to the ball after the pair tangled and fell to the ground.
Punxsy's lead was short-lived though, as Wilcox hit another free throw and the Lady Beavers took the lead back on a basket by Jordan Fairman.
A foul shot by Jensen Constanino evened the score at six after one period.
Early in the second, Punxsy forward Ally Fye picked up her second foul, putting the foul disparity at 7-3. Although his team's aggressive defense sent some of his players to the bench early, Reitz reiterated after the game that foul trouble isn't something that concerns his team.
"We're so deep that foul trouble really doesn't bother us," he said. "I can just insert another player, and we don't miss a beat. It's really nice being able to go eight or nine deep."
Reitz said a large part of the advantage of playing so deep is more girls are able to form a sense of chemistry. Often, a Punxsy substitution resembles a hockey line change with four or even five girls subbing into the game, but Reitz said it's all a matter of comfortability.
"These girls play a lot of basketball together, and they're starting to figure out what each other girl likes to do," he said. "We have some groups that feel more comfortable playing with each other, and that's just the way we're going to do it."
While the first quarter was low-scoring, the second bested it by a point with DuBois outscoring Punxsy 7-4.
Punxsy's only baskets came on layups by Constantino and senior Alex Magill, and Punxsy trailed 13-10 at the half.
In the second half, Punxsy's defensive prowess continued, holding the Lady Beavers to just 12 points between the third and fourth quarters, but things heated up a bit for the Lady Chucks on the offensive end.
"I thought in the second half, our offense was a lot better," Reitz said. "We made some shots. In the first half, we had some good looks, but they just wouldn't drop. You're a little less confident on the road, too. These kids weren't going to quit defensively, though, and we knew sooner or later, the shots would start falling. And they did."
Punxsy point guard Ashley Reitz led the way with all nine of her points coming in the second half at key times when Punxsy needed a basket.
Punxsy took the lead with just under two minutes to play in the third on a layup by Fye, but DuBois' Wilcos answered right back to give the Lady Beavers a 21-20 lead.
On the final possession of the quarter, though, Newcome drained a three that would prove to put Punxsy up for good.
Reitz gave the Lady Chucks some breathing room early in the fourth quarter with a two early and a three with just under six minutes to play.
DuBois narrowed the gap to as few as four points, but Punxsy's defense proved to be too strong, and a pair of Newcome free throws with 51 seconds remaining sealed the deal.
"I'm very pleased with the effort these girls give you every single night, and we came away with a victory on the road," coach Reitz said. "You can't ask for anything more."
In the JV contest, Punxsy continued it's season-long defensive dominance in a 44-33 win that wasn't quite as close as the scoreboard indicated at the end.
DuBois narrowed a 16 point gap at the end with some increased pressure on defense and foul shots that would prove to be meaningless.
The Lady Chucks' two-headed scoring monster of Shaina Painter and Anna Horner set the pace for Punxsy with 17 and 13 points respectively.
Lexxi Cielo came in next-highest for the Lady Chucks with six points.
Forward Hope Weaver put up four for Punxsy, and Ivy Phillips and Morgan McFarland rounded out the scoring with two apiece.
Up next for the Lady Chucks is an important league game at home against the Lady Raiders of Brookville (9-3) Tuesday night.
The Punxsy-DuBois rivalry continues tonight, when the boys' teams will face off in Punxsutawney.