Beavers prove too strong for Chucks

PUNXSUTAWNEY — After a crowd-roaring three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, Punxsy could not ride the wave of momentum to victory on Friday night.

Rival DuBois proved to be too strong for Punxsy by scoring the game’s final 11 points over the last 2:51 to take away a 50-40 boys’ basketball victory in Punxsutawney.

“It was the same old record,” explained Chucks head coach Dirk Neal. “We had too many missed easy baskets and putbacks. We can’t finish.”

The inability to finish was never more evident then during one stretch in the final period.

The Beavers’ Beau Shepherd scored on a driving inside layup to retake the lead, 41-40, with 2:51 remaining.

On the ensuing home offensive trip, the Chucks missed, pulled down the inside rebound, missed a second inside attempt, grabbed the missed shot and could not convert a third less than dead on shot.

After a DuBois timeout, the visitors added to the slim advantage when Cole Kriner dropped a running jumper at the elbow to make it 43-40 with 2:04 left.

Punxsy’s Brandon Mancuso had his runner blocked on the next trip and could not save the ball as he dove after it.

Ryan Sloniger swiped the Beavers' inbounds pass, only to give the ball right back as he tried to thread the needle on a bounce pass into the paint.

DuBois’ Kriner converted on two free throws after Punxsy had to foul three times to reach the penalty.

With 36 seconds to go, a left-corner three-point attempt by Sloniger could not pull the Chucks to within a bucket.

The Beavers pulled in the missed three-point try. The visitors missed on their end of the floor but saw forward Hunter Lydick slice in for the offensive rebound and tip-in. The hoop made it 47-40 and virtually sealed the DuBois win.

Punxsy misfired two more times in the final 20 seconds. Lydick finished the affair with an uncontested basket with no defenders on the visiting end for the DuBois 50-40 final.

The Chucks saw Devin Nicholson finish with a team-best 10 points as the lone double-digit producer. He added four rebounds.

Tyler Young downed a trio of triples for nine points, including the one to end the third period. Young also had one assist.

Sloniger produced eight points off the bench, including a pair of treys, to go with a steal.

“Sloniger had a real nice game. He works hard and we need to find more minutes for him,” commented Neal. “Down the stretch, we need to find some guys that want to step up.”

Mancuso contributed eight points while having six boards, three assists and three steals.

Cory Geer pulled in six caroms of his own and netted three points.

Garrett Zimmerman added four boards and two free throws.

Despite not scoring, Michael Klingensmith had a team-high four assists with three in the opening frame. He also blocked a shot and stole a pass.

The festive night featuring the Winter Sports Queen Court started off slowly but productively for the home club.

Punxsy’s first five tries from the floor were off the mark. The Chucks did not score a field goal until 5:10 had ticked off the clock, when Klingensmith found Mancuso on a pass in the paint and a 5-4 tally.

The inside Mancuso bucket started a run of five straight productive offensive possessions. The run, which was finished by four points from Nicholson, gave the Chucks a 14-8 lead at the end of the eight minutes.

The buzzer sounded to end the opening period, and the Punxsy productivity of the first half ended with it.

DuBois cut the margin down to a point, 14-13, in the first three minutes. The Beavers’ run continued with two more two-point shots and a 17-14 lead with 2:12 to go in the half.

Sloniger drained a triple from the left wing for a tie at 17. Punxsy edged in front, 18-17, briefly, on a Geer free throw. DuBois’ Kriner put in the final four points of the half, including a left-corner jumper as time expired for a 21-18 lead, as the visitors ran to intermission.

The Chucks’ misfortunes and the Beavers’ scoring continued in the opening minutes of the second half.

DuBois made two of its first four shots to push further in front, 26-18, while Punxsy recorded four misses and a turnover in the same time frame.

A pair of Mancuso running jumpers kept the Chucks within six points. After a visitor triple, Slongier connected on his second trey from the left corner to keep the difference at six, 31-25.

A missed DuBois long-range attempt enabled Punxsy to sneak closer, 31-29, on two Zimmerman shots from the charity stripe. The Beavers, again, had the answer with five points in a row.

The final third-period momentum would go to the home team. With the clock ready to hit zero, Young hoisted a deep top-of-the-key three-pointer and the shot hit nothing but net for a momentum-giving tie at 34 after 24 minutes of play.

The clubs exchanged buckets in the first two minutes of the final period. DuBois pushed back in front with a triple before Nicholson made one of two foul shots for a 39-37 tally.

Young would give the home team its final lead when he dropped a left corner trey off a Klingensmith helper and a 40-39 lead with 3:48 in the game.

DuBois netted the final 11 points to complete the game.

The Friday evening started off with a hard-fought junior varsity Chucks victory.

Holding a slight 16-13 halftime lead, Punxsy produced two quarter-winning totals to outscore DuBois in all four frames. The JV Chucks won the second half 28-19 for the eventual 44-32 final score.

Slongier and Clayton Dale combined for 33 points, including 12 of the team’s 15 points, in the fourth period.

Sloniger finished with 17 points and Dale had 16 points.

The five Punxsy JV players of Will Curtis, John Matthews, Andy Fedigan, Jared Burkett and Logan Reed all had two points. Brandon Blose completed the scoring with a free throw.

Punxsy will have a tough final week of the regular season.

It will travel for a Monday contest at Keystone starting at 6 p.m. before hosting Bald Eagle Area in a makeup home game on Wednesday night.

The Chucks will finish the week’s docket with the final home game of the season against the Owls of Bradford on Friday evening.