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Wire-to-wire Chucks prevail over Raiders' hoops

December 15, 2012

The Route 36 Rivalry turned to the boys' basketball side but the winning side as Thursday night. Punxsy scored the game's first 12 points and led wire-to-wire in its 53-42 victory over rival Brookville Friday night in Brookville. The Chucks' Garrett Zimmerman looks for a teammate while being guarded by the Raiders' Zach Byerly (40). (Photo by Chris Myers/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BROOKVILLE — For the second night in a row, the Route 36 Rivalry took to the hardwood. The location moved to the north location, but the result remained the same.

After netting the night’s first 12 points, Punxsy kept the advantage wire-to-wire to prevail, 53-42, over Brookville in boys’ basketball Friday in Brookville.

The Chucks (3-1) would be challenged for only a two-minute brief burst by the Raiders midway through the fourth frame before the visitors regained control the final three minutes.

“We talked about it all week long (about starting strong),” commented Chucks’ head coach Dirk Neal. “I hope our goal is for four quarters of it.”

With 14 points in the first half, Cory Geer powered his way to an 18-point effort to lead Punxsy. The junior tied a team-high six rebounds along with two assists.

Brandon Mancuso dropped three treys with 14 points, four steals and three assists.

Devin Nicholson chipped in nine points and a pair of steals. Tyler Young added eight points and three assists.

Garrett Zimmerman grabbed six boards to go with two points, two steals and two assists. Will Curtis rounded out the scoring with a bucket.

Michael Klingensmith swiped two balls and assisted on two baskets.

The Raiders (1-3) received half of their points from junior Nathan Shirts with a 26-point evening. Tate Canavan and Jack Huggins chipped in six points apiece. Ben Cudworth and Luke Frank also added baskets.

The Chucks came out strong by making five of their first six shots to open the 12-0 advantage in the opening four minutes.

On the team’s second shot from the floor, Mancuso drained a three-pointer. Following a Brookville miss, Mancuso dished to Nicholson in the right corner to double the score to 6-0 at 6:19. Geer, Mancuso and Young put in layups in the next two minutes to complete the strong opening.

The Raiders missed their first three shots and turned the ball over three times before Shirts made a jumper with 3:36 in the first frame.

The two teams played even the remainder of the first for an 18-9 Chucks lead.

The rivals exchanged three hoops apiece before the hustling Geer increased the Punxsy margin by his determination inside.

After a layup with five minutes left before half, Geer would added four more buckets before intermission. He took a sharp pass from Mancuso cutting under the basket.

Mancuso stole the ball from Brookville and popped his second triple before Geer drove the left side of the lane for the contest’s biggest difference to that point, 31-17, with 1:33 left.

Following a three-point play by the Raiders’ Shirts, Geer received an inside pass from Klingensmith to cap the first half and his 14-point outburst with the Chucks ahead 33-20.

“Geer had a great game,” noted Neal. “We hustled all over the place.”
Shirts kept the Raiders in the contest by totaling 14 of the home team’s 20 points.

The opening three minutes of the second half could have been mistaken for the start of the game.

The Raiders misfired on their first four attempts and turned the ball over three times. The Chucks, on the other hand, produced their second quality first three minutes.

Punxsy connected on three of its opening four third quarter shots. The first half star, Geer, stole the ball on Brookville’s first time seeing the Punxsy zone defense and raced down the court for a layup.

Two possessions later, Mancuso took a pass from Zimmerman on a cut for two points before nailing his third triple from the left corner. Geer capped the 9-0 beginning with two foul shots for a 42-20 cushion.
Huggins connected for two three-pointers in under two minutes, as Brookville answered with its own 10-0 run to end the third quarter, 42-30.

“In the third quarter, we didn’t let down, but were just forcing some things,” explained Neal. “It is an issue of where to play aggressively and knowing when to attack.”

After a driving Shirts layup for Brookville to start the final quarter, Punxsy beat the home press when Curtis passed inside to Nicholson for an answering basket.

Shirts was the Raiders’ one-man show in the final eight minutes. He downed a three-pointer before receiving two-straight passes from Canavan for two more buckets.

After the final bucket of the three, Shirts stole the ball, laid the ball in and completed a conventional three-point play. The run of Shirts' scoring gave Brookville not only the game’s momentum but drew it to within four points, 46-42, the slimmest difference of the night, with 4:18 on the clock.

“We just can’t give them (the other team) the momentum like we did,” stressed the Chucks coach. “We have to handle the ball better, as well as shoot better at the foul line.”

The home momentum would not last. The Shirts three-point play would be the last Brookville points of the night.

Leading 47-42 following a Mancuso foul shot, Geer stole his third ball of the game and assisted right off it via a Nicholson layup.

On the next Brookville possession, Zimmerman stole the ball again for Punxsy, and he eventually assisted on a Young basket after a timeout to make it 51-42 to seal the victory with 2:27 left.

Punxsy forced Brookville into five turnovers in the final four minutes, and the home squad missed all three of its attempts.

With 54 seconds, Young made both of his free throws for the eventual 53-42 final score.

“Our bench players played very well for us tonight. They may not have a lot of scoring but gave us good minutes,” added Neal. “Klingensmith had some good steals in the backcourt along with solid time by (Ryan) Slongier, (Clayton) Dale and Curtis.”

Punxsy can now return home to start a four-game home stretch to end the calendar year.

“We just have to keep working hard and develop our young team with the veteran seniors,” concluded Neal. “It will be nice to have the four-game home stand coming up, starting Monday night.”

The junior varsity Chucks rode a strong beginning as well for their third victory in as many games. Punxsy spurted out to a 13-4 first-quarter advantage. The JV visitors extended their cushion with a 17-4 second frame and commanding 30-8 halftime score.

The two teams played a sloppy but evenly-scored second half for a 44-21 Punxsy win.

Curtis paced the JV squad with five baskets and 11 points. John Matthews and Ruben Taylor contributed eight tallies apiece, respectively.

Sloniger and Matt Burkett chipped in four points while Brandon Blose added a three-pointer. Klingensmith, Dale and Andy Fedigan completed the scoring, each with two points.

The JV Raiders saw Brandon Smith net eight points and Shawn Blochberger had six points.

Homer Center will come to Punxsy for a 6 p.m. contest on Monday, Dec. 17. The Chucks will also host Harmony three nights later on next Thursday.

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