CLARION, Pa. – Holding St. Marys without a point for a span of 8:50 in the first half, Punxsutawney claimed its sixth straight District 9 title and its fourth in a row in Class 4A with a 54-38 win Thursday night at Clarion Univesity’s Tippin Gym.
(Photo by Chris Rossetti)
“It’s a really good feeling,” junior guard Riley Presloid, who scored all 12 of her points on four second-half 3-pointers said. “It’s the sixth one in a row for Punxsy, and I am really happy to be a part of it.”
Punxsutawney is the first District 9 girls’ team to win six straight titles since Bradford won seven in a row in the first seven years of a girls’ tournament from 1973 to 1979 with the first three of those in a one-class system and the last four in Class 3A in a three-class system.
“It means a ton,” Punxsutawney head coach Mike Carlson said. “I think with this streak we are on, I feel a little bit more pressure every year. Those nerves never go away, even for coaches. I know with the kids, that’s a good thing because then you know how much it means to them. It’s a great accomplishment for our kids and our school.”
Behind Ryley Casaday, the Lady Chuks took a 15-10 lead after one quarter of play with the junior Casaday scoring the first eight points for Punxsutawney
“It was nice for her to finish those inside,” Carlson said. “That’s what got them out of the press, really.”
While the first quarter was strong for Punxsutawney, the second quarter from a defensive perspective was a coach’s dream.
The Lady Chucks held St. Marys scoreless until a Kaylee Muccio 3-pointer with 25.8 seconds to go in the half. That was the Lady Dutch’s first basket since Muccio put back an offensive rebound with 1:16 to play in the first quarter that trimmed St. Marys’ deficit at the time to 13-10.
By the time she scored again, Punxsutawney had scored nine straight points including the first seven of the second quarter – despite neither team scoring until the 2:56 mark of the quarter – to take a 22-10 lead.
“The defensive effort was great I thought,” Carlson said. “Our usual style wasn’t to play 20 the whole game, but we just got back in man-to-man and did the best we could with that.”
Freshman Chloe Presloid, Riley’s cousin, didn’t allow the Muccio 3-pointer to give St. Marys any momentum when she just beat the horn with a 3-pointer of her own capping a strong second quarter for her, a quarter that saw he score eight points. She scored 13 of her game-high 15 points in the first half while hitting three 3-pointers.
“I guess I just though my shot was hot so I had to keep shooting,” Chloe Presloid said. “We were definitely executing well on offense, and I thought everybody was doing really well.
“This is my first year playing, so I am really excited to be a part of this team and this journey.”
Watch the Presloid cousins’ interview.
Punxsutawney didn’t let up on the gas pedal in the third quarter using a 7-3 spurt to build the lead to 14 points, 32-18, on a 3-pointer by Riley Presloid and then ending the quarter on a 7-2 run that included another 3-pointer from Riley Presloid, who had been in first-half foul trouble.
“Once I got my second foul, I knew I had to step up my game,” Riley Presloid said. “I knew I had to come back and help my team.”
The Lady Chucks got the lead to as many as 23, 54-31, in the fourth quarter St. Marys ended the contest on a 7-0 spurt to set the final score.
The win was the 22nd in a row for Punxsutawney over St. Marys dating back to the 2011 season and came on the heels of beating the Lady Dutch by six points, 43-37, Feb. 4. The Lady Chucks had won 50-31 Jan. 15 in Punxsutawney.
“That second game, they were just able to keep that defensive pressure up on us,” Carlson said. “We just weren’t able to free up offensively. On the other end, they took it to the hoop a little better. We were able to control that tonight for three quarters.”
Casaday added 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds to give Punxsutawney three players in double digits with Sarah Weaver chipping in nine points, six rebounds and five assists and Kierstin Riley eight points. Chloe Presloid also had four steals, four assists and five rebounds.
Muccio, who hit three 3-pointers, including a pair in the third quarter, tied Chloe Presloid for game-high honors by scoring 15 points for St. Marys while completing a double-double with 11 rebounds, and Samantha Hayes added seven points and five rebounds.
Punxsutawney shot a sizzling 22 of 42 (52.4 percent from the field), while St. Marys connected on just 14 of 49 shots (28.6 percent) of its shots.
St. Marys’ season comes to an end with a record of 18-6 with three of those losses to Punxsutawney, while the Lady Chucks are now 19-4.
Punxsutawney will play the fourth-place team out of the WPIAL, either Central Valley or Blackhawk, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs at a time to be determined Saturday, March 7, at a District 9 location to be determined. It will be Central Valley if North Catholic wins the WPIAL title game Friday night. It will be Blackhawk if Southmoreland wins the WPIAL title.
Full coverage of District 9 teams in the basketball postseason can be found here.
D9Sports.com’s District 9/PIAA basketball playoff coverage Powered by Lezzer Lumber is brought to you by:
Lezzer Lumber • Delta Contracting & Design/Ace Concrete & Excavating • Team Minard • Fran Morelli Sales & Service • Burford & Henry Real Estate Services • Potter County Family Campground • Close’s Lumber Company • Tin Town Metal Works • State Representative Donna Oberlander (Paid for by Friends of Donna Oberlander) • 120 Pub and Grub in Clearfield • Campbell Bus Lines • Hunter Station Golf Club and Restaurant
PUNXSUTAWNEY 54, ST. MARYS 38
Score by Quarters
St. Marys 10 3 15 10 – 38
Punxsutawney 15 10 20 20 9 – 54
ST. MARYS – 38
Kaylee Muccio 6 0-0 15, Lauren Eckert 1 2-2 4, Kyla Johnson 0 0-0 0, Britney Shaw 0 0-0 0, Megan Quesenberry 1 2-3 4, Giorgia Baciga 1 0-0 2, Allison Schlimm 2 1-2 5, Maria Chiappelli 0 0-0 0, Samantha Hayes 3 1-2 7, Isabelle Caskey 0 1-2 1. Totals 14 7-11 38.
PUNXSUTAWNEY – 54
Abby Gigliotti 0 0-0 0, Ryley Casaday 4 2-2 10, Bella Martino 0 0-0 0, Kierstin Riley 4 0-0 8, Riley Presloid 4 0-0 12, Sarah Weaver 4 1-2 9, Chloe Presloid 6 0-0 15, Madi Shiock 0 0-0 0, Amy Poole 0 0-0 0, Katelyn Griebel 0 0-0 0, Abbey Stello 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 3-4 54.
Three-pointers: St. Marys 3 (Muccio). Punxsutawney 7 (Riley Presloid 4, Chloe Presloid 3).