By Chris Rossetti
CLARION, Pa. – Hampton used an 8-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to pull away from Punxsutawney for a 41-29 win over Punxsutawney in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA girls’ playoffs Saturday night at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
The Lady Chucks (20-5) were hanging around after three quarters trailing by just six, 30-24, after a personal 5-0 run by Alli Lunger, who finished with a team-high 12 points, had cut into an 11-point deficit.
But Hampton (20-6), the third-place team out of the WPIAL, got free throws from Arrayn Griggs and Brianna Murray and baskets from Jenna Lafko and Natalie Dean in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 14, 38-14.
Listen to Punxsutawney first-year head coach Mike Carlson talk about the game and the Lady Chucks season.
Punxsutawney was able to stay close through three quarters by weathering Hampton runs.
The Talbots started the game up 12-5 before three straight points by the Lady Chucks got them within four, 12-8, at the end of the first quarter.
But Hampton came out strong to start the second quarter scoring six straight points, including four from Lafko, who finished with a game-high 13 points, to take a 10-point lead, 18-8, a minute into the quarter.
Punxsutawney answered thanks to Lunger who scored all seven points during a half-ending 7-9 run that got the Lady Chucks within three, 18-15, at halftime.
Leah Miller, who ended with six points and 12 rebounds, then cut the deficit to one, 18-17, with a basket off an offensive rebound 1:11 into the second half.
But Miller’s bucket was the last points Punxsutawney would score for over four minutes.
That drought allowed Hampton to go on an 8-0 run to push the lead back to nine, 26-17, on a basket by Dean, who added 11 points, off a turnover with 2:48 to go in the third quarter.
Turnovers were part of the undoing of the Lady Chucks, who gave the ball away 29 times on the night.
Even a basket by Kylee Lingenfelter, her only hoop of the night, couldn’t stop the Talbot momentum as buckets by Alison Collins and Lafko, both off turnovers, extended the Hampton lead to 11, 30-19, with 1:20 left in the third quarter.
Lunger, though, got the Lady Chucks back in the contest with a basket at the 1:05 mark followed by a 3-pointer with 42.3 seconds left in the third quarter to close the gap to the six points it was at the end of three.
Hampton will now face Villa Maria in the second round Wednesday at a time and place to be determined.
HAMPTON 41, PUNXSUTAWNEY 29
Score by Quarters
Hampton 12 6 12 11 – 41
Punxsy 8 7 9 5 – 29
HAMPTON – 41
Laryn Edwards 1 0-1 2, Jenna Lafko 5 2-2 13, Mackenzie Bittner 1 0-0 2, Alison Collins 3 1-1 7, Grace Dean 0 0-0 0, Natalie Dean 4 3-5 11, Brianna Murray 0 2-2 2, Sarah Jameson 0 0-0 0, Sarah Dixon 0 0-0 0, Brooke Fuller 0 0-0 0, Aaryn Griggs 1 2-2 4. Totals 15 10-13 41.
PUNXSUTAWNEY – 29
Kylee Lingenfelter 1 0-1 2, Alli Lunger 4 2-2 12, Emma White 0 0-0 0, Leah Miller 2 2-4 6, Morgan Vanleer 1 0-0 2, Kate Horner 1 0-0 3, Hope Bridge 2 0-0 4. Totals 11 4-7 29.
THREE-POINTERS – Hampton 1 (Lafko). Punxsutawney 3 (Lunger 2, Horner).