With young, eager roster, Franklin Regional girls basketball team excited about future

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Sunday, March 6, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Bernie Pucka’s first year as Franklin Regional girls basketball coach didn’t go as expected.

The young Panthers struggled, going 2-10 in Section 4-5A and 6-15 overall.

But what encouraged Pucka about the team is the players didn’t want the season to end.

“We missed the playoffs by 12 points,” Pucka said. “We suffered a one-point overtime loss to Greensburg Salem and five- and six-point losses to Gateway.

“We had no seniors on the roster and we played mainly juniors and sophomores. We also started a freshman late in the season. We were young, and it was one of those years the team didn’t want the season to end. They really started coming around.”

So with an experienced squad returning, Pucka is already excited about the offseason where he gets to work on different skills with the players.

He plans on taking the team to Slippery Rock for a team camp and enter the team in the McKeesport summer league.

Pucka previously coached at Plum.

“We’re close and it takes a lot to get over the hump,” Pucka said. “They work hard and they are attentive. When we talk, all eyes are on us.

“We have to continue to hustle, press teams and score off transition. That’s the offensive and defensive philosophy we have to develop.”

One of the Panthers’ top players this season was junior guard Sarah Penrod, who averaged 10 points per game.

The other players that showed a lot of progression were sophomore point guard Angelina Brush, freshman center Toryn Fulton, junior point guard Brooke Schirmer, sophomore forward Sophia Reitz, junior forward Sophia Yaniga, sophomore forward Olivia Orndoff and junior guard Avery Musto.

“Sometimes when a team is going through a tough season, they tend to give up,” Pucka said. “We didn’t see that from this group. They wanted to continue. We’ll have a lot of open gyms.

“We’ll press on. We have to work on our transition game and continue to improve our overall game.”

One thing unsure about next season is what section Franklin Regional will be in.

But one thing is for sure: Franklin Regional will be better prepared to battle all comers.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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