Valiant Punxsutawney Comeback Falls Short in Overtime

CLARION, Pa. (D9Sports) – Trailing by nine with just over four minutes to play in regulation, Punxsutawney rallied to take a four-point lead only to watch Central Valley tie the game with a late 3-pointer and then outscored the Lady Chucks in overtime to pick up a 59-56 win in the opening round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.

(Photo by Patty Presloid)

The Lady Chucks, the District 9 champion, were down 42-33 with 4:38 to play but went on a 14-1 run to take a 47-43 lead on an old-school 3-point play by Kiersten Riley with 55.4 seconds to play. A pair of Riley Presloid 3-pointers and a triple by her cousin, Chloe Presloid, helped fuel the comeback.

“We are fighters,” Punxsutawney head coach Mike Carlson said. “I can also guarantee they thought, there’s that breathing room we needed against them. Our kids just kept battling. It was nothing special x’s and o’s wise. Our kids just knocked down some shots under pressure.”

But Christiane Frye hit two free throws to cut the lead to two before Bella Martino went one of two from the line for Punxsutawney with 31.6 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to give the Lady Chucks a 48-45 lead.

Allyson Kirby, however, hit a game-tying 3-pointer from deep on top of the key with 19.9 to play to tie the game at 48 for Central Valley.

“We’re trying not to lose her,” Carlson said. “It just happened in transition. Not blaming any of our kids, we were kind of helping in transition and she kind of flashed out there deep. She hit that one, and credit to her for hitting a big shot when she needed it.”

Punxsutawney had a chance at the end of regulation to win the game, but a wild shot by Cholie Presloid was high and to the side just before the horn sending the game to overtime.

“They were really face guarding Riley,” Carlson said. “We were trying to involve her in screens and popping out after thinking that they would be so concerned with her that we could slip Katelyn (Griebel) to the hoop. Then late, we tried to get a double for her, but, again, probably my fault, I had never had that lineup on the court together. I didn’t quite have the play to go to there.”

The Lady Chucks took an early lead, 50-48, in overtime on two Riley Presloid free throws but both Sarah Weaver and Chloe Presloid fouled out, and coupled with Ryley Casaday being on the bench with an injury suffered earlier in the game, Punxsutawney was without three starters.

“Arguably, not one starter was in from what it could have been in October,” Carlson said. “Credit to our kids. They stepped up when they needed to. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the stops when we needed to in overtime. But for those kids to be in that situation, I know they were feeling nervous but they did well.”

Central Valley was able to take a 54-50 lead on back-to-back driving layups by Kirby and then Frye, and then Frye hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.

Fyre led Central Valley with 22 points with Kirby adding 20 and Alysa Gillin 10.

Riley Presloid, who hit four fourth-quarter 3-pointer and fifth in overtime paced the Lady Chuck with 23 points.

“Riley hasn’t played the beginning of the game quite the way she wanted to these past couple of games over here,” Carlson said. “But then, man, does she answer the call and played great for the rest of the game. Tonight was no different.”

Chloe Presloid added 13 points and Riley and Weaver each eight. Riley also had a team-high eight rebounds.

NOTES – The game had a couple of bizarre officiating administrative errors, one that possibly could have kept the game from going to overtime.

In the first quarter, Riley Presloid was fouled while taking a shot and should have been awarded two free throws. But after making the first shot, the ball was awarded to Central Valley. The mistake wasn’t caught until about a minute-and-half later when Presloid was then allowed to go to the line to hit her second free throws, which she made. The correct ruling was made by allowing Presloid to go to the line, but, still, it was a mistake that should never have happened in a PIAA playoff game and especially one officiated by officials who have been in the PIAA championship game.

“I questioned it early, and basically there was nothing they could do at the point,” Carlson said. “But then later they did go and check things out at that point and gave her that shot. I’ve never seen that. I actually turned to my coaches and said ‘did I miss the first shot when I was talking to the kids?’ That’s exactly what I said. Apparently, I didn’t. Then I said something.”

Then in overtime, when one of the Punxsutawney players fouled out, the Central Valley player was allowed to shoot her first free throw before the Lady Chuck was made to leave the court. That error, while not nearly as egregious as the free-throw mistake, also can’t happen in a PIAA playoff game.

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