Franklin Regional girls basketball shows promise in strong opening weekend

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 | 6:09 PM

Franklin Regional girls basketball players are trying to learn a new system under coach Bernie Pucka, and if that means a few extra hours in the gym, so be it.

They are committed to the cause after a good start to the season.

After playing games last Friday and Saturday, the team gathered Sunday evening for a walkthrough just to make sure they were on the same page.

“I saw a lot of passion and excitement just to be playing and being a team,” Panthers junior guard Brooke Schirmer said of the first two games. “I think we all want to prove everyone wrong considering our previous couple seasons, and we started by playing hard (last) weekend to get a good start on the season and build our confidence up from last year.”

The first thing that jumps off the film when watching the Panthers (2-1) play is a faster pace and an emphasis on defense.

“I believe our man-to-man defense will always be our go to, but it was nice to mix things up with various zones,” Pucka said. “At times, our presses were impressive, but with everything, we still have a long way to go.”

Franklin Regional opened with a 60-27 win over Laurel Highlands, then topped Class 6A Hempfield, 43-39, at the Fayette County Coaches Tournament at Penn State Fayette.

Avery Musto made five 3-pointers and scored 16 points and Schirmer added 13 points in the first game. Schirmer had 10 against Hempfield as sophomore guard Sophia Reitz helped to contain the Spartans’ top scorer, Brooke McCoy.

“I think the biggest change is the energy on both defense and offense and just having different plays to fall back on if one is not working,” Schirmer said. “Coach Krista put in a lot of good offensive plays that I think will trick teams, and defensively we are quick and can get a good turnover when we need it with any of the defenses coach Pucka puts us in.”

Franklin Regional’s lone loss came against another 6A team, Butler, 50-27. The Panthers host Kiski Area on Friday before opening Section 4-5A play at Woodland Hills on Monday.

Pucka has been impressed with his team’s ability to process new schemes and loads of information.

“Since our time together, (assistant) coach Krista Pietropola and I have mentally thrown a lot at these young players,” Pucka said. “Over the weekend, it was so impressive to see all their hard work during practice take action during the games. We were clicking on both sides of the ball. Offensively, we were very crisp with our sets, and defensively we were very capable of switching our fronts on the fly.”

Sophomore guard Angelina Brush has played well at point guard, where she replaced her sister, Maria, now a freshman at Seton Hill.

Angelina Brush gained bragging rights when the Panthers beat Hempfield, which is coached by her father, Tom. She made two key free throws with 3.2 seconds left to ice the win.

Junior Sarah Penrod has been another consistent player, joining Musto, who hit five 3-pointers against Laurel Highlands. Freshman Toryn Fulton has not disappointed in making a quick impact as a rebounder at forward.

Depth is expected to grow as the season progresses, Pucka noted.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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