ST. MARYS — The real Punxsy Lady Chucks basketball team showed for the final five minutes of action on Thursday night.
The arrival of the Punxsy squad, which helped claim 13 wins heading into the District IX semifinal turned out to be just in the nick of time.
Trailing the entire first 27 minutes, the Lady Chucks went on an 11-3 run to take the lead and held on for an eventual 50-47 victory over the host Lady Dutch of St. Marys.
“It was a total team effort,” exclaimed a victorious Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz. “All eight girls really played well and did their roles for the team, and that is what it took for us to beat St. Marys tonight.”
Behind 29-24 after three quarters, St. Marys’ Adair Gennocro made five of six free throws in the first 1:15 of the final period for double-digit advantage, 34-24.
Following four consecutive misses and offensive rebounds, Taylor Newcome laid in Punxsy’s fifth try on the next possession.
The visitors’ deficit remained seven points, 36-29 with under six minutes.
The resilient Punxsy girls turned up their game from there.
Allie Fye banked home an inside shot off a Nicole DiPietro pass. After one Lady Dutch foul shot, Newcome picked up the offensive rebound on a scramble and popped a triple to make it 37-34 — the closet the Lady Chucks had been since being down by four points in the opening moments of the third frame.
The key run of the night continued.
Fye picked off the ball from St. Marys and saw her defense result in a corner jumper by Emily Horner for a 37-36 contest.
After a home timeout, Gennocro, who would connect on 14-straight fourth quarter foul shots by the end of the game, made two from the charity stripe.
Punxsy quickly ran the ball down the other end of the court, where Emily Horner drove in for a layup.
St. Marys would turn the ball over with an offensive foul on the ensuing offensive trip to give Punxsy its first chance to take the lead.
The Lady Chucks took advantage of the home mistake. While driving along the baseline, DiPietro was fouled with 3:08 remaining. The sophomore stepped up and connected on both tries for the first Punxsy lead of the night, 40-39.
After missing four consecutive free throws over two trips, the Lady Dutch’s Becky Krieg pulled down the second-straight miss and made the putback to push her team back in front, 41-40.
The home putback, though, would be the last St. Marys lead.
Without a basket on the night, Alyssa Reitz picked a good time for her first points. She laid the ball in to regain the slim Punxsy lead, 42-41, at 2:15 on the clock.
Newcome stole the next St. Marys possession, and Anna Horner made one of two foul shots for a 43-41 tally to begin the final two-minute free throw contest.
Jensen Constantino pulled down the St. Marys misfire, and Punxsy started to work the clock until a home team foul.
Newcome made one of two for the largest Punxsy lead, 44-41, at 1:02 to go. Gennocro answered with a pair of foul makes moments later.
With the lone bucket in the final 120 seconds, Newcome found Constantino for a layup with 36 ticks on the clock.
Gennocro made two free throws for St. Marys and was answered with a pair from Newcome to keep the three-point margin, 48-45, at 17 seconds.
The two foes repeated making two foul shots apiece over the next 10.3 seconds to keep the difference the same, 50-47, with 6.7 seconds remaining.
The Lady Dutch called a timeout after Newcome’s second make.
St. Marys put the ball into Gennocro's hands for the game-tying attempt but it was off the mark, and Punxsy completed its fourth quarter surge to victory, 50-47.
“In the second half, we came out and attacked on offense. We weren’t tentative and took the ball to the hoop. Our spacing and our confidence was much better and where it needed to be,” pointed out Reitz.
After scoring only 24 points in the first 24 minutes of play, the Lady Chucks posted 26 points in the final eight minutes. The 26 points turned out to be enough, as Punxsy held St. Marys for 18 in a combined 44-point frame.
Of the team’s 26 fourth quarter points, Punxsy put nine of those points on the board from the foul line in 13 attempts. The nine makes, including Newcome making the final four tries, were key with the struggles at the charity stripe the Lady Chucks endured during the year.
“We stressed how important free throws can be, and tonight it was, and the girls stepped up and knocked them down,” noted Reitz.
With the win, Punxsy (14-9) not only completes the three-meeting sweep of St. Marys (14-9), but also moves on to the District IX title contest.
The Lady Chucks will have the defending champion Lady Owls of Bradford (20-2) next Saturday, Mar. 2, at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym with a to-be-determined start time.
Newcome toed the line seven times and connected on five of the attempts while producing a Punxsy-best 16 points. The junior also knocked down a triple and four two-point buckets. Newcome swiped two balls and assisted on one basket to complete her totals.
Forwards Constantino and Fye each netted nine points apiece, with seven total baskets and four of six free throws. The inside duo each stole a pair of passes, while Fye had an assist.
The Lady Chucks bench accounted for 14 points on the night. Anna Horner hit a key second-half trey and dropped in three of four foul shots for six points.
DiPietro and Emily Horner recorded four points apiece, respectively, to complete the bench production. DiPietro contributed an assist and a steal as well on her night.
Alyssa Reitz had the other two points and an assist. Ashley Reitz added an assist and a steal.
St. Marys’ Gennocro led all scorers with 27 points, including making 15 of 16 free throw attempts. Becky Krieg hit for six points, and DeAnna Yost produced five tallies.
The night started off shaky for the Lady Chucks. The team missed its opening four tries from the floor and fell behind, 4-0, before Fye made a layup 2:50 into the contest.
Constantino tied the game at 4 a minute later and it would be the closest Punxsy would be for the next 23 minutes of play.
The Lady Dutch netted the next six points of the first quarter to lead 10-4. The home club continued with the opening four tallies of the second frame for a double figure advantage, 14-4. The margin stayed at no less than eight points the remaining six minutes of the first half until a 20-12 intermission tally.
“In the first half, we stood and watched. We just couldn’t make good decisions on the offensive end,” said the Lady Chucks coach. “When you turn over the ball like we did, you don’t get many opportunities on offense.”
Punxsy came out strong from the half. Fye banked in the first attempt from the floor on an Ashley Reitz pass. Newcome stole the ensuing pass and laid the ball in to cut the score to 20-16.
St. Marys had the answer at that point with a 9-4 burst to extend its lead to nine, 29-20.
The Lady Chucks posted the final four points of the period for the 29-24 score at the third quarter buzzer.