EMPORIUM — The Punxsy boys' basketball team kept things close every quarter, but could never pull ahead during a 62-45 season-opening loss to Cameron County Friday night in Emporium.
The Chucks (0-1) received more bad news after the loss, as senior forward Darren Pifer may have suffered a concussion after a hard fall with 7:14 left in the third quarter. Pifer's status for Punxsy's next game — Tuesday in Redbank Valley — is uncertain at this time.
Junior Logan Weaver led the Chucks with 21 points, nailing three three-pointers. He added eight rebounds and three assists.
Fellow juniors Alex Fedigan and Daniel Triponey managed eight and six points, respectively. Triponey totaled seven steals and three assists, as well.
"We just have to get comfortable with our new style of offense and become more patient," Punxsy first-year head coach Dirk Neal said. "We're getting good looks, but we just couldn't knock them down when we needed to."
The Chucks were down 31-25 during the waning seconds of the first half when Cameron County banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer. The Red Raiders led 34-25 at the break.
A big basket by the Chucks cut the deficit to 39-36 during the third quarter, but Cameron County outscored Punxsy 23-9 for the remainder of the game.
"We just couldn't get it over the top," Neal said. "As far as our defense, we played with real good defensive intensity. We just didn't play real good low-post defense, and we didn't check out."
Jason Blose led Cameron County with 19 points, and Andrew Sestina added 16.
Neal expects Cameron County to be one of the better Single-A teams in the district this season. Four seniors and a junior started for the Red Raiders Friday night.
"That's a classy team," Neal said. "They've been playing a lot together."
The loss wasn't what Punxsy hoped for or expected, but Neal is staying positive.
"We'll get better. We'll be there in the end," Neal said. "They're not going to give up. We just need to get them into that winning mentality and go from there."