After strong finish, Franklin Regional girls look toward promising future

Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 11:01 AM

A couple more games. Maybe another week of section play would have done the trick.

Franklin Regional may have peaked too late, but that’s not exactly a bad thing as coach Bernie Pucka looks back on girls basketball season.

The Panthers finished fifth in Section 1-5A, when fourth would have been good enough for a playoff spot.

“We were definitely playing our best basketball towards the end of the season,” Pucka said.

Franklin Regional won four of its final five games to finish 7-14 overall and 6-6 in section.

The team benefited from the return of point guard Angelina Brush, who was out much of the season with a knee injury.

Pucka saw Madiso DeRiggi play admirably in the backcourt, while Olivia Orndoff (9.1 points, 4.7 rebounds) emerged as a key scorer, and Toryn Fulton (9 ppg, 6.5 rpg) was a calming presence in the post.

The boat stopped taking in water, and the Panthers stayed afloat long enough to be a factor late. But finishing at 6-6 and needing other teams to lose to advance the season was a lesson in the importance of controlling their own fate.

“Given the seniors that graduated, preseason injuries, and lack of overall varsity experience, I’m super proud of this year’s group and the playoff push we made,” Pucka said. “We finished 6-6 in the section, and six wins got everyone else in 5A into the playoffs except us. We finished the season strong and that’s something we can build upon.”

Pucka called DeRiggi, a junior guard, the unsung hero.

“Madi had a terrific year often willing us to win,” the coach said. “I’m really looking forward to her senior year next season.”

Juniors Addison Musto, Anna Novelli and Fulton as well as freshman Chloe Pucka (Fr.) are also primed to return next winter.

“This season, we lacked varsity experience,” Pucka said. “Next year, that won’t be the case. We return a nice nucleus of players who believe that we can compete with anyone, and that anyone can win on any given night. Varsity basketball is no joke, and we all realize that there is plenty of room for individual and team improvement. That motivation provides the passion for growth.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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