PUNXSUTAWNEY — After challenging weather made for first day schedule changes, Punxsy proved to be its own difficult host to two opponents to take away a night sweep on the first night of the Carl A. Truance Holiday Classic.
Trailing 35-32 with 4:06 left in the game, the Lady Chucks netted the final six points of the contest and scratched out a 38-35 girls victory over the Lady Stingers of Marion Center.
The Punxsy boys followed their classmates for the second hometown victory. The Chucks blitzed the Warriors of Moniteau, 16-2, to open the second half and break open an what would become an eventual 55-34 victory.
The two Punxsy victories give the home basketball squads a chance to record only the fourth occurrence in the 18-year tournament's history of claiming both championships. The last time the two teams were able to accomplish the feat was in 2004, when the boys defeated Marion Center and the girls prevailed over A-C Valley. The 2004 double titles finished a run of the accomplishment happening in three of four years with the 2001 and 2002 tournaments also both going to the hosts.
The victorious home results also set up a season opening night rematch for both squads.
In the girls’ opener, Westmont Hilltop doubled up Hazleton and then some, 88-42, to move into the title game and earn a chance to defend its 2011 tourney title.
The Lady Hilltoppers (5-1) edged the Lady Chucks, 50-45, on the first night of the Marion Center Tournament on Dec. 7. The girls' championship affair is set for a 6 p.m. tipoff.
“Westmont Hilltop has improved (from three weeks ago). They are a solid basketball team,” pointed out Punxsy head coach Randy Reitz. “To be able to compete with them, we will have to eliminate our turnovers and play mentally tough.”
For the girls consolation game, Hazleton and Marion Center will begin at 1:15 p.m.
On the boys’ side, Marion Center (3-4) took care of Clarion, 68-61, to earn a rematch with Punxsy in the title tilt. The Chucks defeated the Stingers, 57-45, on the first night of the Marion Center Tournament.
The two area schools are set for a 7:45 p.m. start time.
“Marion Center has improved (since the first meeting),” explained Chucks boys' coach Dirk Neal. “They have some big scorers as (Brodey) Thompson and (Todd) Fetsko combined for 48 points against Clarion.”
Clarion will play Moniteau in the boys consolation contest beginning at 3 p.m.
Marion Center and Punxsy junior varsity squads will begin the day’s action with their own doubleheader. The girls' teams will start at 10 a.m., with the boys to follow at 11:30 a.m.
Girls: Punxsy 38, Marion Center 35
Tied at 32 with 4:28 left in the game, Marion Center’s Taylor Woodrow made one of two free throws to give her team the lead. After a Punxsy turnover, Jenny Irvin took the inbounds pass and took advantage of a defense lapse to drive half the court for the layup and a 35-32 lead with 4:06 left.
The Lady Stingers would not score again.
On an inside drive, Punxsy’s Shaina Painter was fouled and cut the margin to a point, 35-34, with both free throws at 3:47. Following turnovers by both squads, Painter hit a 15-foot right wing jumper off an Ashley Reitz pass for the Lady Chucks lead, 36-35, a lead they would not relinquish over the final 2:33.
With 1:26 left in the game, the Lady Stingers reached in on the Lady Chucks’ Jensen Constantino. The sophomore forward made both attempts for a 38-35 score.
Marion Center (5-2) turned the ball over on its next two possessions, but Alyssa Reitz missed a pair of foul shots with 41 seconds to keep things close. The Lady Stingers missed two straight attempts before Ashley Reitz saw two free throws rim out with 18.9 ticks left.
After a visitor timeout, Marion Center missed two three-point tries with the second being blocked by a Punxsy defender before the loose ball flew out to the left wing and one last desperation triple fell short at the horn for the 38-35 home victory.
“It was one of the biggest wins we have had in December over the last couple years,” said the Lady Chucks coach. “We need to make free throws down the stretch and do a better job at the end of the game. It’s all about confidence.”
Painter had the confidence on the floor Thursday night for the Lady Chucks (4-3). The sophomore not only put her team ahead for good but posted a season-best 11-point effort. Painter netted nine of those 11 points in the deciding second half with five coming in the final stanza.
“Shaina did a nice job both as a big and a guard tonight,” added Reitz.
Taylor Newcome, who pulled the biggest defensive duty in the second half, paced Punxsy on the night with 14 points and three steals.
Constantino added five points, and Allie Fye had four.
Alyssa Reitz had a basket for two points to go with four assists and a pair of steals. Nicole DiPietro hit a jumper, while Anna Horner had two helpers.
The first half was Marion Center’s Chantel Glasser against the Punxsy team. Glasser accounted for 14 of the Lady Stingers’ 16 first-half points.
Punxsy edged out a 9-8 lead in both first half quarters for an 18-16 intermission advantage.
Coach Reitz switched his swingman Newcome onto Glasser, who finished with 23 points, to slow her down in the second half. Newcome held the 5-11 forward to just two third-quarter baskets.
“We did a much better job (in the second half) helping out on Glasser. Taylor played good defense on her as we made the switch defensively.” Noted Reitz.
Marion Center spurted ahead to a 27-22 lead with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Punxsy held strong, as Newcome made a foul shot and added an inbounds jumper for a tight 27-25 contest after three periods.
Boys — Punxsy 55, Moniteau 34
The Punxsy fans were treated to two different boys' contests in one game to watch their Chucks.
“A tale of two halves,” said coach Neal. “We were really lethargic and didn’t take advantage of the moment in the first half and then pushed the issue in the second half.”
Moniteau made the home team sweat going into the intermission, when James Bair netted a last second jumper to cut the deficit to 23-19.
Punxsy’s Brandon Mancuso led the red and white storm out of the locker room. Mancuso almost single handedly enabled the Chucks to coast to victory.
The junior point guard laid in the opening basket on his way to a 12-point, two-assist and two-steal eight minutes to help the Chucks open a 44-29 lead.
Tyler Young stole the first Moniteau (1-5) possession and passed ahead for a Mancuso layup to start the 16-2 run over the first 4:10 of the period. Young also downed the second basket, a triple, in the run with Devin Nicholson adding two assists and a steal.
Punxsy eased its way home with an 11-5 final quarter and 55-34 win, its sixth in seven contests on the season.
Despite having only three points at the half, Mancuso rallied to take high-scoring honors with 15. The guard handed out four assists, blocked a shot and had a pair of steals.
Behind nine first-half points, Nicholson finished with 13 points of his own.
The 6-3 senior pulled down five rebounds to go with two assists and two steals.
Young was the third double-digit Punxsy scorer with 10 points. He added five caroms and two assists.
“Different people stepped up for us. We are not going to have the same person (lead us) every night, and I thought we got some of that tonight,” wrapped up Neal.
Garrett Zimmerman led the glasswork with seven rebounds while having two points.
Cory Geer chipped in five points and four assists.
Will Curtis banked in four points. Michael Klingensmith, Clayton Dale and Matt Burkett each finished with two points apiece.
Bair led the Warriors with 12 points on the night.