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Winter sports mid-season glance

January 20, 2012

In this Jan. 12 photo, Punxsy's Jesse Venturini (left) and Michael Rosenberger (center) defend a shot by Harmony's Tyler Tiesi. Punxsy has relied on solid defense and a steady scoring attack to jump out to a 9-2 record in the first half of the 2011-12 season. (Photo by Zak Lantz/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

Boys' Basketball

With 11 games in the books, the Punxsy boys' basketball team is halfway through the regular season. This story is a look back on the season so far and a glance forward to where they're headed.

Where they've been: The Chucks basketball team started the season with a number of questions surrounding how well it would perform after losing would-have-been starting senior guard Logan Weaver to Indiana.

So far this season, Punxsy has found answers to all the questions and jumped out to a 9-2 record, including a 3-0 record in District-IX play so far this season.

The Chucks' only two losses came to Marion Center — in the Tip-Off Tournament on the Stingers' home court — and non-league Indiana — Weaver's new home school.

On the positive side, the Chucks won the consolation game of the Tip-Off Tourney to even their record and picked up a big league win over Brookville Dec. 16.

After suffering the 61-39 loss to Indiana, the Chucks squad showed no signs of quitting as it bounced back to win its last six straight, including wins on the road against DuBois Central Catholic, Harmony and league opponent St. Marys.

The streak also included a pair of wins at the Carl Truance Holiday Classic, which Punxsy won as the host.

Punxsy's JV team is also having a great season with an 8-0 record thus far.

On the horizon: Punxsy's next two games are a pair of vital league games for the Chucks.

Tonight, Punxsy will host the Bradford Owls, who are 5-5 overall, but won their only league game against St. Marys in convincing fashion.

Monday, the Chucks will travel to Brookville to take on a Raider squad certain to be seeking vengeance for Dec. 16's close defeat.

What lies ahead: Although Punxsy has put together an impressive run, Punxsy head coach Dirk Neal knows there's still a long road ahead of his team, including seven league games in its final 11.

One thing is certain, though: The Chucks have shown plenty of promise in the first half of the season, and the town is excited to see exactly where this squad is heading.

Girls' Basketball

Things didn't start exactly the way the Lady Chucks' basketball team had hoped this season.

But with a young squad on the opening day roster, the Lady Chucks have started to turn the corner.

Where they've been: Punxsy's schedule did the team no favors, either, as the Lady Chucks opened their season with five consecutive road games, including a pair at the Marion Center Tip-Off Tournament.

After the tournament, Punxsy had three more road games leading up to the Carl Truance Holiday Classic, at which Punxsy hosted Marion Center and a difficult Hazleton squad to fall to 0-7.

The Lady Chucks' hard work and dedication at practice has been paying off, though, as Punxsy has amassed a 4-2 record since the turning of the calendar, including one win over the Clearfield Lady Bison, who had handed Punxsy a double-overtime loss earlier in the season.

Punxsy also defeated DCC and Purchase Line before earning its most recent victory in its first league win over St. Marys Tuesday.

After being held to less than 40 points in six of their first eight games, the Lady Chucks have put up 60-plus in three of their last five.

The JVs are an impressive 7-4 this season.

On the horizon: Punxsy is just past the halfway mark on its calendar for the season, and has a difficult matchup when the Lady Chucks travel to Bradford tonight.

Road games at Bradford are known to be difficult, as the Lady Owls defend their home court well.

This year, they'll be extra tough to bring down, as they're undefeated on the season at 10-0 and 2-0 in league play.

Next week, Punxsy will host a Harmony team that has struggled this season Monday before traveling to DuBois for another league game Thursday.

What lies ahead: The good news for the Lady Chucks after opening the season with five road games is they will close the season with five-of-six at home, including key match-ups against Brookville Jan. 31 and Bradford Feb. 17 to wrap up the season.

Varsity Wrestling

In wrestling, there are two ways to earn six points in an individual match. One can pour endless effort into earning a pin, or the other team can be forced to forfeit.

Unfortunately for smaller squads across the state this year, forfeits are becoming a problem that skews final scores of matches.

For Punxsy, despite outdueling several of their opponents on the mat this season, the Chucks' 5-8 record doesn't reflect how well they've performed.

Where they've been: It's been an historic year so far for the Chucks on the mats.

First, Punxsy picked up a win over Clearfield in its second dual meet of the season Dec. 21, 2011 — Punxsy's first win over the long-time rival and "big brother" since 1977.

Then, less than three weeks apart, Punxsy had two grapplers reach a milestone in their career at the 100-win mark — a milestone only two other Chucks had ever reached in Matt Means and 2011 graduate Kody Young.

After opening the season with a win over Marion Center and the win over Clearfield, Punxsy traveled to the Wheeling tournament, where they tallied two wins in seven matches. But the Chucks' tournament record was deceiving, as all but one of the dual meets came down to less than six points, a one-bout difference.

Punxsy returned to the .500 mark in its first match of 2012 with a convincing win at Curwensville, but the Chucks have now dropped three straight, including a loss to powerhouse Brookville and a four-point loss to Redbank, in which Punxsy outscored the Bulldogs on the mats.

On the horizon: As the winter season begins to wind down, Punxsy's wrestlers will be working hard to bring their weights down to their natural classes.

Saturday, the Chucks travel to Lewistown for a dual meet tournament. Then, after a home match against Clarion Tuesday, the Chucks will travel for the second consecutive weekend to the New Oxford tournament.

Although the season is actually past half over, the pair of tournaments will provide plenty of opportunities for the Chucks to gain valuable experience entering the postseason.

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