PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsy boys' basketball team was right with DuBois Central Catholic — a ranked Class A school according to the Patriot-News of Harrisburg — at halftime before falling apart during the second half of a 56-34 loss Monday night at home.
The Chucks (4-9) appeared primed to hand the Cardinals (11-3) their third-straight loss after leading 17-16 at halftime, but allowed a pair of 20-point second half quarters while scoring just 17 total points during the final two quarters combined.
Monday's game was similar to Punxsy's 44-27 loss at Bradford last Friday. The Chucks were behind 18-15 by halftime during that contest before allowing the Owls to pull away with an 18-9 third quarter. DCC used a 20-5 third quarter to turn a one-point first-half deficit into a 36-22 lead entering the fourth quarter.
"We came in here at halftime tonight with the mistakes that we had made and were up one. I'm not sure what's going through their minds when they're up against a very good team that's ranked in the state," Punxsy head coach Dirk Neal said. "We just don't come out solid in the third quarter."
While DCC was getting into a flow during the second half, Punxsy's offense stalled. Jordan Mesoraco and Darren Pifer each made baskets, and Luke Janocha downed one free throw, but that was it for the Chucks during the third quarter.
"I think the guys are just worried about making baskets instead of going through the game and letting the game come to them," Neal said. "We're forcing shots when we get behind — same thing we did at Bradford."
Chris Marshall scored a game-high 14 points for DCC. Dan Fitzpatrick added 12 points, Brad Gallagher tallied 10 points, and both Jake Krause and Dan O'Connor had seven points.
None of Punxsy's players cracked double figures, as Alex Fedigan managed a team-best seven points off the bench. He scored all of his points in the first half.
Logan Weaver and Mesoraco added six points, Daniel Triponey added five, and both Pifer and Garrett Zimmerman totaled four.
Punxsy fell behind 9-2 through the first seven minutes of the game, but was down just 12-6 entering the second quarter. Punxsy began its run once it was behind 14-8 in the second quarter, as it used a 9-0 run to leap ahead 17-14. Two free throws by O'Connor with 15 seconds left made the halftime score 17-16.
The Chucks, which took five charges and brought down five of its six offensive rebound during the first half, couldn't keep up with the Cardinals during the second half.
After continually rushing its shot, Punxsy didn't crash the boards during the second half, while DCC pushed the ball down the floor and scored on the fast break.
DCC closed the third quarter on a 14-3 run.
"Until we can make some baskets, we're not going to be able to beat teams just because of that," Neal said. "Defense will only carry you so far."
The fourth quarter was much like the third, with DCC pulling away from the Chucks as the game grew closer. Punxsy wouldn't come any closer than 13 points at 42-29, as DCC finished the game on a 14-5 surge.
Punxsy travels to Keystone (3-9) Wednesday. Two of the Panthers' three wins have come at home.