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First-half woes lead to Chucks' demise on road

February 11, 2012

Punxsy's Garrett Zimmerman (left) drives past St. Marys' Justin Beimel Tuesday in Punxsutawney. (Photo by Zak Lantz of The Punxsutawney Spirit)

DUBOIS — Punxsy's boys' basketball team was outscored 27-11 in the first half of Friday night's game at DuBois, and despite battling back and playing stellar defense in the second half, the Chucks were unable to overcome the deficit in a 42-30 loss to the Beavers.

The news wasn't all bad for Punxsy Friday night, though, as with Bradford's loss at Brookville, the Chucks did clinch the No. 1 seed at the District IX Class AAA playoffs in March.

Clearfield and Bradford, the other two qualifying teams, will play for the opportunity to play Punxsy, which will play both those squads next week.

Punxsy's demise Friday night was its field goal percentage, as the Chucks shot 28-percent from the field in the contest, including 3-for-20 from behind the three-point arc.

Despite the rocky first half, though, Punxsy head coach Dirk Neal was excited after the game about the way his team came out and battled back in the second half.

"These guys came out and were energized to go back at it after the first half," he said. "We knew we'd dug ourselves a hole, and we did our best to dig back out of it. We told them at halftime, 'Let's cut the lead in half in the third quarter, and we nearly did that."

Neal also noted a change in defensive schemes as a possible reason for the sluggish start by the Chucks.

"We just came out, mixed up our defenses a little bit, and maybe we shouldn't have," he said. "But we dug a big hole, worked our way out of it and never quit fighting."

Punxsy outscored DuBois 10-4 in the third, and a three-pointer at the buzzer that just missed would have brought Punxsy within seven entering the final stanza.

Punxsy's defense played especially well in the second half, holding DuBois to just 15 points, five of which came after the Chucks were forced to start fouling DuBois players at the end of the game.

Neal said he was pleased with the defensive intensity.

"We ran our pressing defense, caused a bad shot and a turnover on two diferent occasions," he said. "Unfortunately, we turned the ball over on the other end on both trips, too."

Punxsy's Brandon Mancuso was the game's high-scorer with 11 points, and senior point guard Daniel Triponey followed closely with 10.

On the boards, Punxsy's Garrett Zimmerman led the team with seven rebounds, and Ian Miller was right behind him with six.

Nate Avery was DuBois' leading scorer with nine points, and Nate Liddle had eight for the Beavers.

Neal said that despite the tough loss, his team isn't going to change anything heading into a busy week with three games scheduled.

"We don't really need to change anything," he said. "We just need to look at fine tuning and make sure we keep playing good defense. We held a very good DuBois team to 42 after allowing 27 in the first half. Our defense really buckled down."

Punxsy's JVs improved their record to 16-1 this season with a 56-27 victory over DuBois Friday night.

Punxsy's defense held the Beavers to just two points in the first quarter, and Neal said the offense was "firing on all cylinders," as they jumped out to a 19-2 lead.

Four Chucks were in double digits with Tyler Young scoring 14, Devin Nicholson scoring 12 and Cory Geer putting up 10.

Will Curtis and Michael Klingensmith just missed the 10-point mark with nine and eight, respectively. Clayton Dale wrapped up the scoring with a three.

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