BROOKVILLE — The Punxsy boys' basketball team had the right game plan to counteract Brookville's height, but the Chucks' struggles from behind the three-point line led to a 50-42 loss to the Raiders Friday night on the road.
Punxsy (1-2, 0-1 District IX League) missed its first 10 three-pointers and finished 6-of-24 from beyond the arc during an uncharacteristically bad shooting night. However, Punxsy first-year head coach Dirk Neal said that if the Chucks played Brookville again today, he'd have the same game plan in place, knowing his team would succeed behind the three-point line given another chance.
"I'd never change anything," Neal said. "It wasn't like we were leaning or they were bad looks. They were great looks. We just couldn't knock them down."
A season after claiming the District IX Class AA title, the Raiders are off to a 4-0 start while winning in their first league contest of the season.
"I’m happy to get the first (league) win. Punxsutawney is a quality team, and they’re well-coached," Brookville head coach Bud Baughman said. "Any time we beat Punxsutawney, it’s a good win for us."
Brookville fowards Zane Hackett (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Jared Heschke (eight points) controlled the paint offensively and defensively, scoring a combined 22 points and limiting the Chucks' starting forwards — Jordan Mesoraco, Alex Fedigan and Luke Janocha — to just seven points.
Senior guard Dan Ion scored a team-best 15 points for the Raiders, nailing a pair of threes for Brookville's first six points during the second and third quarters. Senior guard Kyle Baughman added 12 points, including a pair of three pointers.
Whenever the Chucks were able to stop Brookville's forwards, Ion and Baughman knocked down big shots from the outside.
"It seems like when you need one to miss, that's when Ion and Baughman make one," Neal said.
Leading the Chucks in scoring was junior guard Daniel Triponey, who tallied 18 points. He scored 10 during the fourth quarter.
Junior guard Logan Weaver added 13 points, and Mesoraco followed with five.
Brookville upped its lead during each of the first three quarters, advancing a 13-8 first-quarter advantage to 25-17 by halftime. A Heschke basket with 5:12 left in the game put the Raiders ahead 39-24, but the Chucks came roaring back, starting with a pair of threes by Triponey.
"They played hard right to the final whistle, which I knew they would," coach Baughman said. "Dirk has them going in the right direction, and it’ll be an interesting matchup when we play again in a couple of weeks."
A three by Weaver with 40 seconds left trimmed the score to 48-42, but Baughman's pair of free throws extended the lead to a three-possession game at 50-42 with 19.9 seconds remaining.
The Chucks were constantly knocking down shots to get back in the game, but they could never come within six points after the first quarter, since the Raiders always had an answer for Punxsy's scoring runs.
"I have a lot of respect for this team," Neal said. "(Dick) Fenstermaker, Baughman and (Kevin) Wolfe do a nice job, and they have these kids ready to play every game. Bud does a real good job."
Brookville expected the Chucks to take the bulk of their shots beyond the arc, considering the Raiders' size advantage. Brookville ended up limiting Punxsy to just 2-of-17 from three-point land during the first three quarters.
"We stressed that before the game — pushing out to the three-point line — and I thought, for the most part, we did a pretty decent job," Baughman said. "Near the end, we gave up a couple that shouldn’t have gone, but overall, in the first half, we played pretty solid defense."
Brookville's next game is at home against Karns City Monday night.
The Chucks will have four days off before hosting Harmony in their first home game of the season Wednesday.
Neal knows exactly what the Chucks will focus on during today's practice.
"Tomorrow, we go right back to the gym," he said. "The kids are excited to get back for a short practice tomorrow, and it's going to be all shooting."