Shooting hands go cold, Lady Chucks fall

PUNXSUTAWNEY โ€” The last time the Lady Chucks basketball team faced Brookville Dec. 15, 2011, the Lady Raiders were just too much for Punxsy's young squad to handle.

The rematch took place Tuesday night in Punxsutawney, and a more confident, experienced Lady Chucks team that has shown much improvement since that first meeting struggled to find it's rhythm early and couldn't overcome the deficit put up by Brookville's steady offense, as the Lady Raiders cruised to a 51-38 victory.

"We just didn't shoot the ball in the first half very well," Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz said after the game. "We had some good looks, and we just weren't able to knock them down. And that happens with a young team, especially against a very experienced team."

Punxsy had come into the game on a bit of a roll, winning six of its last nine games, and Brookville had been struggling of late, but the Lady Raiders rebounded in a game they knew they had to win.

"We were coming off a tough loss, and the kids knew how big this game was," Brookville head coach Mark Powell said. "They came out and played like it, and I'm proud of the effort. They played 32 minutes coming off a game where we were pressed for 32 minutes (Monday against Bradford)."

Reitz also knew the Lady Chucks would have their hands full with a reeling Brookville team coming to their house.

"Brookville had struggled here of late, and they came to play some basketball, and they played a very good game," Reitz said.

Despite some solid, open looks to start the game, the Lady Chucks just couldn't make a basket fall, and they were outscored 7-0 in the first four minutes by the Lady Raiders.

Punxsy senior Alex Magill finally put Punxsy on the board with back-to-back baskets.

But Brookville finished the quarter on a 7-2 run to to lead 14-6 after one.

Brookville's Lanae Newsome was a force for the Lady Raiders in the first, scoring nine points.

In the second, Punxsy contained Newsome, but unfortunately for the Lady Chucks, Emily Ferraro heated up to score five second-quarter points and lead the Lady Raiders to a 26-15 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, the Lady Chucks, again, did a good job containing Newsome, but Ferraro's hot streak kept rolling, and she scored eight more points in the third quarter.

Punxsy's offense also heated up in the third, as the Lady Chucks outdid their first half total in the third quarter alone with 16.

Punxsy closed on a 9-2 run, with a long two by Alyssa Reitz, a basket by Lauren Giavedoni, a hoop in the paint by Jensen Constantino and a three by Taylor Newcome to cut Brookville's lead to six points entering the fourth quarter.

But six points was as close as the Lady Chucks would come, with Brookville opening the fourth on a 11-2 run to put the Lady Chucks away for good.

The Lady Raiders played keepaway for the final two minutes to secure the 51-38 victory.

Ferraro was the game's top-scorer with 20 points, and Newsome followed closely with 16.

"Emily hurt us in both games (against Brookville)," coach Reitz said. "She had 20 tonight, and with Lanae's 16, that's three-quarters of their points right there. We just had no answer for (Ferraro). Physically, she dominated us inside, and Newsome, outside, beat us off the dribble, penetrated and either shot or hit the open girl. When they're on, Brookville is a tough basketball team."

Powell liked what he saw from his leading duo, as well.

"It was Lanae early on and Emily the rest of the way," he said. "We did run some sets to get it to Emily, and she converted on those. She was big. When they crunched down on Lanae, she really stepped up. So, I'm proud of her performance. That's what you need from your senior leader."

Newcome was Punxsy's top scorer with 10 points, and Magill and Constantino each followed closely with eight. Despite a balanced scoring attack, though, the points just didn't come early or often enough for the Lady Chucks.

Reitz said the Lady Chucks will go back to work today when they hit the gym in preparation for another difficult league game Friday against Elk County Catholic.

"It doesn't get any easier," he said. "Elk County's a very good basketball team. They're going to play pressure defense, and we need to bring our A-game. Tonight, we didn't do that, but give Brookville credit. They did a nice job defensively."

In the JV contest, the tables were turned, as Punxsy flew out to a 10-1 lead with an aggressive press defense, and despite a number of Brookville rallies, the Lady Chucks held on for a 49-38 win.

Punxsy held the Lady Raiders scoreless for the first four minutes while Anna Horner, Shaina Painter and Amber Ward cashed in on a total of five transition hoops to open up the lead.

Brookville answered and pulled within three late in the quarter, but three more late baskets gave the Lady Chucks an 18-9 edge after one.

The Lady Raiders opened the second quarter with seven unanswered to pull within two, but Punxsy again widened the gap late to lead 28-20 at the half.

Brookville turned up the defensive pressure with a full court press of its own in the third quarter and closed the gap to as many as one with 20 seconds left.

But Horner finished a layup in the waning seconds of the quarter to extend the lead to 37-34 after three.

The first two-and-a-half minutes of the final quarter went scoreless, but the Lady Chucks followed with seven points in the next two-and-a-half minutes to give them a 10-point lead with two minutes left.

The Lady Chucks ended up outscoring Brookville 12-4 in the final quarter to seal the 49-38 win.

Horner led the scoring for Punxsy with 17, and two other Lady Chucks โ€” Ward and Painter โ€” finished in double digits, with 11 and 10 respectively.

Emily Reitz added five points, and Rachael Barnett (3), Ivy Phillips (2) and Ashley Whitesell (1) rounded out the scoring for Punxsy.