Bradford beats Punxsy, finishes perfect

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Lady Chucks knew what they had in store for them when the Lady Owls of Bradford visited Friday night: An undefeated team seeking to end it's season 22-0.

And the Lady Owls came out firing on all cylinders on both ends of the court to reach their goal with a 53-26 win.

"They're very athletic, and they're very strong and that showed tonight," Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said. "They showed us how strong and athletic they are. They took us and beat us in every phase of the game. Offensively, defensively and transitionally the beat us. We really didnt play very well."

The Lady Owls especially owned every facet of the first half, using a dominant zone defense, at times pressuring the length of the court, to hold Punxsy to just three points in each of the first two quarters.

"Their pressure really bothered us," Reitz said. "We were tentative and rushing rather than getting the ball inside. That type of pressure does that to you. Those are things we just have to keep working on with a young squad. We'll keep working on them and improving."

Bradford scored 12 in the first half and bested that total by one in the second to lead 25-6 at the half.

The Lady Owls' scoring attack was a balanced one in the first half, with Ali Rinfrette leading the way with eight. Alex Vinelli followed closely with six, and Kaserra Owens added five.

Punxsy's first-half scoring came on a first-quarter three by Taylor Newcome, a basket by Jensen Constantino and a free throw by Nicole DiPietro in her first game back from an injury.

Punxsy regrouped offensively in the third quarter, putting up its largest number of the evening with 12 points, but Bradford's potent scoring attack continued by scoring 19, led by nine third-quarter points by Emily Marshall.

Bradford attacked the rim and was able to put Punxsy in foul trouble, entering the bonus situation with 2:30 remaining in the quarter and the double bonus before the period ended.

The Lady Owls went to the free throw line a total of 14 times in the third quarter alone. In comparison, Punxsy only went to the line for four shots all night.

During the fourth quarter, Bradford slowed things down and didn't shoot quite as frequently, giving some bench players an opportunity to see some time, as well, and the Lady Owls outscored Punxsy just 9-8. But the damage was already done, and Bradford's undefeated season was in the bag.

One bright spot in the Lady Chucks' second half was the performance of some players that usually see the majority of their time in the JV games — Anna Horner, Shaina Painter and Emily Reitz.

Painter was able to crack Bradford's tall defensive back line and score four points, and Horner picked up a basket, as well.

"It was nice to see those three come in and play with some confidence at the varsity level," Reitz said. "Hopefully, that confidence will carry over the rest of this year and then into next year."

Punxsy will look to regroup heading into the District IX playoffs next week, and coach Reitz said he has no worries about his team not being ready to get back to work after the tough loss.

"We'll get back at it Monday night and prepare for a playoff game next week," Reitz said. "We're just going to have to keep working hard in practice. They'll be ready to go Monday at practice. These kids don't like to lose, and no matter how many days we have, they'll work hard. We'll see what happens."

The Lady Chucks aren't sure exactly when the game will be played yet, but they do know the contest will be a rematch with the still-undefeated Lady Owls.

The JV contest literally came down to the last second, but Bradford preserved a 38-37 lead to earn a victory over the Lady Chucks.

The contest was one of streaks and rallies, with each team's offense taking its turn.

Bradford opened strongly with a 9-3 run, but Punxsy's Emily Reitz hit a three one of Punxsy's six threes on the night — for the final hoop of the quarter to cut the lead to three.

Punxsy kept the momentum in the second, starting on a 6-2 run to take a 12-11 lead,  with all the Lady Chucks' points coming on free throws.

As close as the game was down to the wire, though, Punxsy wouldn't lead again for the rest of the contest.

Bradford ended the quarter with three quick baskets and opened up a five-point halftime lead.

Punxsy finished the third down just three and narrowed the gap late, with Horner hitting three foul shots down the stretch to bring Punxsy within one.

A last-second foul shot clanged off the rim, though, and the Lady Owls grabbed the rebound as the time on the clock expired.

Horner led the scoring with 14 points, all of which came in the second half, and Reitz was in double digits as well with 10, including three from behind the arc.

Ivy Phillips scored six on a pair of threes, and Painter scored five, all on free throws. Rachael Barnett added a hoop to finish off Punxsy's scoring.