PUNXSUTAWNEY – It may have taken 28 minutes but the Chucks were able to get its direction and get in ‘Geer’ to clip the Cardinals on Saturday night.
With only a hard-fought two-point lead, 54-52, Punxsy rode the wave of all-out effort by Cory Geer to spearhead the winning final four minute stretch drive over DuBois Central Catholic 62-52, in Punxsutawney.
“We get big plays out of someone every time along the way and it is a different person each time stepping up,” pointed out Chucks’ head coach Dirk Neal. “I have to give credit to the kids as they gutted it out against a very scrappy DCC ball team.”
Geer led the final four-minute game-deciding charge. The junior forward scored eight of his 10 points, pulled down four of his game-high 11 rebounds with three offensive caroms and another defensive rebound and threw a ball of a DCC player for another turnover in the final period.
“Geer was phenominal with his hustle,” added Neal.
Leading 54-52 with 4:07, Punxsy accounted for the game’s final eight points. The Chucks made four of their final five attempts from the floor, grabbed four offensive rebounds and stole two balls.
Along with forcing two turnovers on defense, Punxsy held DCC without a made basket in its last four tries in the same period of time.
On the night, Chucks’ guard Brandon Mancuso paced the scoring with 22 points on nine made buckets. He also dished out six assists and stole four passes.
Forward Garrett Zimmerman joined Geer with his own double-double. Zimmerman hauled in 10 rebounds to go with 10 points.
Tyler Young was the fourth Punxsy double-digit scorer with 11 points.
He also had two boards, two assists and two steals.
Klingensmith added four tallies and an assist. Ryan Sloniger contributed three key second half points and had an assist of his own. Will Curtis completed the Chucks’ scoring with two points with a third frame putback.
“All of our bench players gave us something,” commented Neal.
“Slongier’s hoop, a putback from Curtis and even minutes of defense by John Matthews were huge for us.”
The road for the eventual victory took a great deal of work and patience throughout the third quarter.
After a Zimmerman jumper out front for a 30-28 lead two minutes into the second half, DCC made what could have become the biggest spurt of the affair.
The Cardinals scored on their next five offensive possessions over the following 3:05 to open a seven-point lead, 39-32.
The Punxsy players as its head coach stressed did not panic.
“We were down seven and never panicked. We kept playing and worked through it,” said Neal.
The Chucks (9-3) answered the Cardinals’ spurt with 10-2 run of their own.
The run started with a Curtis offensive putback before Mancuso connected on two driving layups to pull to within 41-40.
Mancuso then stole the ball from DCC and found Sloniger in the right corner, who knocked down his shot and a 42-41 home edge at the end of the third period.
Before the home team’s strong final 240 seconds, DCC (6-8) proved to continue to be a pesky foe.
Trailing 44-42, the Cardinals’ Michael Krajewski downed a three-pointer to edge in front, 45-44, for what would be the last time with 7:07 remaining.
The visiting lead would be short-lived as Mancuso clutched an offensive rebound on the next trip before promptly laying the ball into the basket for a 46-45 lead.
DCC would not go away even after a Mancuso top-of-the-key triple put it down 52-48 at 5:37.
For the second time within two minutes, the visiting squad cut the difference to a bucket, 54-52, on a 17-foot jumper by Ayden Hanes with 4:07 to go.
The DCC jumper would be its last points as Punxsy accounted for the final eight tallies of the night.
After two empty trips on a turnover and two missed foul shots, Klingensmith pulled in an offensive rebound and put back, 56-52.
Geer sunk one of two foul shots for a 57-52 contest with 1:47 in the contest.
Young intercepted a DCC pass and grabbed an offensive rebound to extend the Punxsy possession.
The extended offensive trip resulted in another point on a free throw by a fouled Geer, 58-52, with 32 seconds remaining.
Geer swiped the next Cardinals’ offensive trip when he fired the ball off a visiting player as he fell out of bounds with 18.7 left.
Mancuso made his first free throw four seconds later before Geer pulled in the miss and was fouled.
Geer made his first attempt before racing to the right block to grab his own miss on the second try and lay the ball in for a 62-52 score with nine seconds showing.
Geer added the final defensive rebound on DCC’s final three-point miss for good measure.
“It was very important the offensive boards we were able to get in the second half,” commented Neal. “Any time you miss 13 foul shots and still win by 10 says something.”
Punxsy claimed the first period of the contest by an 11-8 score.
After DCC made the first five points of the second period to lead 13-11, Punxsy produced the largest lead of the night before the final tally.
The Chucks posted the next 13 of 15 points to the board led by six points from Zimmerman for a 24-15 margin with 2:44 in the opening half.
The Cardinals used three triples to cut the difference to 28-26 at intermission.
Sebastien Schenk led DCC with seven buckets for 14 points.
Krajewski and Timmy Kentoski also reached double figures with 12 and 10 points.
Saturday night’s opening act made the crowd wait a bit longer due to an exciting junior varsity affair.
With three-tenths of a second left in overtime, Clayton Dale drained a right baseline jump shot from 15 feet to give Punxsy a 55-53 victory over DCC.
Tied at 53, the JV Cardinals missed the front end of the one-one-one with 8.7 seconds and the Chucks’ Curtis pulled in the defensive rebound.
Punxsy ran to the other end where Dale took the pass and dropped the game-winner.
After a three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer, the Cardinals trailed 44-42 with a quarter left.
The visiting JV club made both free throws with 54.9 seconds for a 49-47 lead.
On the next trip, Matthews sliced into the block for the offensive rebound and putback with 41 seconds to tie the game at 49. Both JV teams missed on their shots in regulation.
With DCC leading 53-51 with 1:04 remaining in overtime, Sloniger connected on a one-handed running jumper in the lane to tie the game at 53 with 28 seconds to set up the final events.
Along with hitting the clutch game-winner, Dale had a season-high 17 points to lead Punxsy.
Sloniger chipped in eight points with seven tallies coming from Curtis.
Matt Burkett and Matthews each added six points. Ruben Taylor contributed four points.
Rounding out the JV scoring, Jared Burkett and Andy Fedigan finished with three and two points.
Punxsy will stay at home as it hosts St. Marys in a District IX League affair Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m.