Solvay girls hoops surges to playoff berth

Pucello, honored before the game for her 1,000-point milestone, made more history as she pulled down 24 points. When Pucello hit two free throws with 35 seconds to play, she broke Sandy (Ponza) Sutherland's career scoring mark of 1,034, which was set in the early 1980s -- and Sutherland was present to congratulate Pucello.

As for the help, Cierra Garner battled her way into double figures, earning 10 points, while Jones finished with nine points. Pucello hit all eight of the foul shots she attempted.

Now a playoff berth hinged on Friday's game against Phoenix. Fighting nerves, pressure and the inevitable fatigue that three win-or-else games in three nights can cause, the Bearcats came through again.

Needing a quick start, Solvay got it, playing strong defense and not letting up until it had a 25-15 halftime lead, steeling itself against the possible wear that would show up in the second half.

Sure enough, Phoenix controlled the third quarter and pulled within 32-29, adding to the tension. But the Bearcats stayed in front and, with Pucello hitting her free throws at the end, a trip to the playoffs was clinched.

Overall, Pucello had 19 points, while Garner continued to improve, working her way to 12 points as Jones got eight points and Busch earned six points. Kaylee May and Sarah Bregg led Phoenix with 10 points apiece.

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