Strong 2nd half pushes 7th-graders to victory

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsy's seventh- and eighth-grade girls' basketball teams faced off against Altoona-Maroon Tuesday in Punxsutawney, and the Lady Chucks' seventh-grade team defeated Altoona-Maroon 30-20.

"A total team effort by all ten of my Lady Chucks resulted in this extra special, feel-good win for them against Altoona," Punxsy head coach Darrin Kriebel said.

Altoona jumped out to an early 15-9 lead in the first half before Punxsy turned it on in the second to come back and secure the win.

"This game was a tale of two halves," Kriebel said. "The first half, for whatever reason, the girls just weren't ready to play. Then, during the second half, the girls really stepped up defensively created turnovers and went out and began attacking the basket, showing what they can do."

The Lady Chucks outscored Altoona 21-5 throughout the second half, combining a strong offensive effort with solid defense.

Kriebel hopes this victory will carry over into bigger things for the Lady Chucks.

"Hopefully now, this team will play with the confidence they acquired in their game and realize that all the hard work they've been putting in since mid-August is paying off for them," he said. "I'm very happy and proud for each of these team members."

Alli Lunger led the scoring effort for Punxsy with 16 points, including one three-point shot — a rarity in the junior high basketball games.

Morgan VanLeer added nine points; Kaitlyn Ray had four; and Devon Dubensky added one.

In the eighth-grade contest, Altoona-Maroon's daunting defense held the Lady Chucks to seven points throughout the entire game and Altoona went on to win 36-7.

The eighth-grade squad fell to 4-4 with the loss.

Emma White had five points for Punxsy, and Claire Smith and Madison Haverilla each added a free-throw for the Lady Chucks.

"That was not pretty," Punxsy head coach Mike Carlson said. "Hopefully, we can move on and get ready for our upcoming games."

Punxsy, which is in the daunting part of its schedule, will face another difficult test when the Lady Chucks host the Lady Owls of Bradford Friday.