DuBOIS — The Punxsutawney girls basketball team used a strong second-half surge to put away St. Marys, 47-24, Wednesday night at DuBois Area High School to capture their second straight District 9 Class 4A title and four D-9 crown in a row.
Defense ruled the first half as both teams struggled to get into an offensive flow, with each team reaching double figures in turnovers by the half. St. Marys finished with 23 turnovers overall, while Punxy had 20.
All those miscues led to a low-scoring first half that saw Punxsy lead 10-4 after one quarter and 20-12 at the break as the Lady Dutch fought to stay in the game.
Something clicked for the Lady Chucks at halftime, as they came out invigorated and all put the game away with an 18-5 third quarter to build a commanding 38-17 lead after three quarters.
That third-quarter surge proved to be the difference as teams battled back in the fourth. Punxsy won the final eight minutes, 9-7, to finish off its 23-point victory for its fourth district title in a row — the first two of which came in Class 3A.
Punxsy was led the duo of junior Kate Horner and senior Leah Miller, who combined to score 31 of the Lady Chucks’ 47 points. Freshman Sarah Weaver added seven. Miller posted a double-double on the night as she also pulled down 15 rebounds.
“The girls played well despite the score,” said St. Marys interim coach Kayla Hoohuli. “Better late than never, but we were finally able to compete and play hard from start to finish. They were executing what I was looking for at the beginning of the game.
“We knew Horner and Miller are huge scorers for Punxsy, but it’s just not them. It’s everyone of their team. It came down to experience. Miller and Horner know what it’s like (to play in district finals).
“We are such a young team, and that’s no excuse. But, this got them some experience for the future, and there is room for growth. The girls are excited and want to be successful, I just wish they were able to do that now, but it will help prepare us for the future.”
Horner drilled a 3-pointer just 11 seconds into the game, while St. Marys’ senior Bekka Bauer answered back with a basket of her own just 11 seconds later. That proved to be most of the scoring in the quarter, as both teams went 5:32 without scoring.
Miller finally broke that drought when she scored on a putback with 2:06 remaining in the quarter as Punxsy closed the first on a 7-2 spurt to lead 10-4.
Bauer had four of her six points in the opening eight minutes. She also had nine rebounds in her final high school game.
Punxsy opened the second on an 8-0 spurt, with Miller and Horner each scoring four, to put the Lady Chucks up 18-4. St. Marys had an answer though and closed the half on an 8-2 spurt of its own to get within eight points (20-12) at the break.
That’s as close as the Lady Dutch got as Punxsy’s huge third-quarter push put the game away even though St. Marys battled down to the final whistle.
Sophomore Lauren Eckert scored all of her team-high seven points in the second half.