PUNXSUTAWNEY — After picking up its first District IX sweep of the sea- son Tuesday at St. Marys, the Lady Chucks basketball team hoped to make it two consecutive sweeps when the DuBois Lady Beavers came to town Friday, and the Lady Chucks pulled the feat off with a thrilling 34-31 victory that came down to the last second.
Punxsy seemed to be in control after outscoring the Lady Beavers 21-12 in the first half, but DuBois stormed back in the second half. DuBois outscored Punxsy, 10-7, in the third quarter to narrow the lead to six points.
After Punxsy's Emily Horner scored three points the old-fashioned way, with a hoop-and-one, to start the fourth quarter, Punxsy didn't score again for nearly seven minutes, and the Lady Beavers came back to tie the game on a three by Samantha Kirk with just over one minute left.
Punxsy senior guard Alex Magill had the final say, though, as she hit a three-pointer as time expired to break the tie and give the Lady Chucks a 34-31 win over their longtime rival.
"For Alex, being a senior and giving us everything she has given us throughout the years, it just couldn't happen to a better kid," Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said after the game. "She's a pleasure to coach and just a great kid. Not only was she happy, but all her teammates and coaches had smiles on their faces. That's what the game's all about."
While Reitz was excited for Magill and the team for earning the win, he also knows there are some things his team needs to continue to work on heading into the final week of the regular season.
"Defensively, we played well the whole game," he said. "But on the offensive end, starting in the second half, we got timid and let them back in the ball game. We did the same thing up at St. Marys (Tuesday). We have to come out in the second half with the same intensity we are in the first half lately."
Although Punxsy led big at halftime, the two teams played about as evenly as two teams could in the first quarter, exchanging baskets the entire eight minutes until Punxsy scored four straight points at the end of the quarter to take an 11-9 lead. DuBois would never regain the lead from that point forward.
Magill scored one minute into the game to put Punxsy ahead, and Casey Wilcox answered with a pair of free throws to tie it.
Magill scored next, as well, with a three from way downtown, and Jordan Fairman brought DuBois back within one.
Samantha Kirk gave DuBois the lead with a three of her own, and Punxsy's Jensen Constantino evened the score at seven with her first of four baskets.
Then, after a pair of Kourtni Ball free throws, Emily Horner tied the game. Ally Fye was fouled with less than one second remaining on the clock and hit both her free throws to give Punxsy the 11-9 lead.
Constantino jump-started Punxsy in the second quarter on a hoop off a nice feed by Magill, and Punxsy scored four more quick points to open up a lead.
Early in the quarter, Wilcox, one of DuBois' starters, picked up her third foul, sending her to the bench for the remainder of the half.
Reitz said after the game that Punxsy's attacking the hoop early led to Wilcox's foul trouble.
"It was because we were taking the ball to the hoop and checking out on the defensive end," he said. "We need to continue to do that for 32 minutes and not just one half, though. But the kids are improving greatly, and we just need to keep working in practice."
DuBois managed just three points in the second stanza, and Punxsy's offense stayed consistent with 10 points to set the halftime score at 21-12.
The third quarter was played fairly evenly, with DuBois hitting a late two to give it a 10-7 edge in the quarter, but Punxsy still led by six entering the fourth.
Horner started the fourth quarter off right for Punxsy with her three-point play.
Punxsy's timidness started to show after Horner's points, though, as the Lady Chucks turned the ball over more frequently and didn't get as many open looks at the basket inside.
The defense held firm, though, and with two minutes remaining, Punxsy still led by five.
DuBois' shooters came through in the clutch, with Katelyn LaBue scoring to cut the lead to three and Kirk nailing the game-tying three as the clock wound to a minute to play.
Magill was fouled, and with Punxsy in the bonus, she had a chance to give the Lady Chucks a lead, but the shot bounced wide, and DuBois came storming back.
Punxsy sophomore Taylor Newcome, known especially for her shooting touch, came up big on the defensive end, this time, with a steal with 40 seconds remaining.
Punxsy burned the majority of the clock, and with eight seconds left, Cara LaBrasca blocked a Punxsy shot attempt out of bounds, giving Punxsy the ball under the hoop with eight seconds remaining.
The Lady Chucks executed their play perfectly, and Magill received the ball in the corner. Her shot fell short off the front of the rim, but she fought for the offensive rebound, and the ball ended up going out of bounds off DuBois with 3.8 seconds left.
Punxsy ran a similar play on the ensuing inbound, and Magill hit the mulligan from almost exactly the same spot to give the Lady Chucks the win.
The crowd erupted in a cheer, and as Magill ran off the court her teammates and coaches high-fived and hugged her, while she just smiled a shy smile.
After the emotional win, the Lady Chucks have the weekend to prepare for A-C Valley, a non-league game Monday night, and Punxsy closes its regular season at home against D-IX foe Bradford.
"We have a lot to work on," coach Reitz said after the game. "So, we'll take it one day at a time and work on different skills and fundamentals to get ready for A-C Valley and Bradford next week. Hopefully, this win will springboard us into the game Monday against A-C."
In the junior varsity game, Punxsy flew out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, going on to win 40-21 over the Lady Beavers.
Punxsy's defense frus-trated DuBois in the first quarter, and the Lady Beavers missed four free throws, their best opportunities to score, while Punxsy set the tone with 10 first-quarter points.
DuBois wasted no time in the second quarter, breaking the shutout on the opening play off the inbound, and the Lady Beavers won the second quarter, 9-8. But Punxsy was still in control, 18-9, at the half.
The Lady Beavers came back within five with a quick pair of baskets to start the third quarter, but the Punxsy defense turned up the pressure to create some easy transition baskets.
Punxsy went on to win the third quarter 8-6, and the fourth quarter was all Punxsy. Horner scored five of her game-high 13 points in the final frame to lead the offense.
After Horner's 13, Emily Reitz and Rachael Barnett each scored seven for the Lady Chucks. Amber Ward scored four points, and Morgan McFarland hit a deep three with seconds left on the clock for her only points.
Ivy Phillips, Brooke Stello and Lexxi Cielo each notched two points to close out the Punxsy scoring.