PUNXSUTAWNEY —After a rocky start this season, Punxsy's ninth-grade boys' basketball team has picked up the pace and earned a second-consecutive victory over Brookville, 37-28, Monday afternoon in Punxsutawney.
Punxsy jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first quarter and never looked back to improve its record to 4-8 in 2011-12.
"This was a total team effort today," Punxsy head coach Brandon Krug said after the game. "Everyone got in the game and was able to contribute to the win. Having two days off, we talked about coming out with good intensity and really getting after them with our full-court defense."
It was Punxsy's stifling defense that really made the difference, holding the Raiders to single digits in three of the four quarters and just five points in the first half.
Krug credited hard work during the games and at practice as a reason for his team's recent successes.
"With only nine healthy players, I'm really proud of how each player has accepted his role and is playing hard," he said. "We are usually smaller than most teams we play, but guys like Andy Fedigan, Dakota Byers, Jared Burkett and Ethan Ambler are simply just outworking the other teams' big guys."
Brookville picked up the intensity in the second half, but Punxsy played right with them, outscoring them 18-16 in the final two frames to earn the win.
While his defense forced many turnovers, Krug said his offense is learning more and more the importance of taking care of the ball.
"Our guards really struggled at the beginning of the year with turnovers," he said. "But now, they are all doing a much better job taking care of it and putting the ball in the basket. We are starting to find a groove. Now, we should finish the rest of the season strongly."
Dakota Thomas was the Chucks' leading scorer with 13 points in the victory.
Brandon Blose and Ryan Sloniger followed him with seven apiece.
Andy Fedigan had six for the Chucks, and Jared Burkett added four.
Punxsy's next game is today, a home contest against the DuBois Beavers at 4 p.m.
7th-grade boys' basketball: Brookville 27, Punxsy 22
After a pair of impressive wins at St. Marys and Bradford last week, Punxsy's seventh-grade squad had a bit of a letdown Monday when the Raiders came to town, and Brookville earned a 27-22 win over the Chucks.
"We had a little letdown on intensity tonight on both defense and offense," Punxsy head coach Rodney Thompson said. "The second starting team did a nice job off the bench in getting us back in the game, but Brookville had too many offensive rebounds. We need to do a better job of boxing out and not allowing teams second and third chances to score."
Punxsy actually led 8-6 after the first quarter, but the Raiders outscored the Chucks 11-6 in the second to take control of the game for good.
Punxsy scored just four points in each of the final two quarters, and Brookville held on for the win.
Brady Snyder led the Chucks offensively with eight points.
"Brady showed some spark tonight on offense," Thompson said. "But overall, we did not do a great job beating their zone defense they played all night. We will get back into practice and work on some things to improve our intensity on offense and defense."
After Snyder, Ethan Riley and Lucas Ambler were the Chucks' next-best scorers with four points, and Jacob Horner, Jacob Weaver and Devin Kelly rounded out the scoring with two each.
7th-grade boys' basketball: Altoona-Maroon 32, Punxsy 25
Although the Chucks' losing skid grew to two games Wednesday with a 32-25 loss to Altoona-Maroon, Thompson said he was very pleased with the improvements he saw in his squad from Monday's game against the Raiders.
Punxsy led 15-14 at halftime, and Altoona was forced to turn it up in the second half to pick up the victory.
"We played with intensity tonight, and it was fun to watch these guys go all out on defense," Thompson said. "They gave everything they had and learned a lot about themselves, which is that they can play with teams that are bigger. That lesson alone was worth it. The Altoona coach said we were the most aggressive team they have faced this year, which was a huge compliment to my guys."
Thompson said Jacob Horner's play stood out on both end, as he was the leading scorer for Punxsy with nine points, with many of those points coming from turnovers he had caused.
"Jacob did a great job on defense, which led to some steals and baskets for him," Thompson said. "He was reading the offense and anticipated very well. All the guys hustled, and that is all I can ask of them."
Despite being pleased with the team's performance, Thompson still saw areas the boys need to continually improve in.
"Some things we needed to do a little better job of was our defensive boards," he said. "They converted a few easy rebounds into baskets because of their height advantage. You have to get your body into them and box them out. You will not win that jump ball underneath the hoop against a taller team."
After Horner, Ethan Riley and Brady Snyder were Punxsy's next-best scorers with four each.
Patrick Fedigan, Nick Constant and Devin Kelley each added two points, while Sky Anderson and Josh Godo picked up a foul shot each to round out the scoring.
Punxsy will host DuBois today at 4 p.m.