PUNXSUTAWNEY — In a tightly-contested and emotional affair, the first rematch of last year’s District IX championship went to the home team after an extra two periods of play.
Bradford’s Mike Wilber kissed a 25-foot shot high off the backboard as time expired before the home team took advantage of bad Punxsy shot selection in double overtime for a 57-49 victory.
“It was a very, very tough loss tonight,” a drained Dirk Neal, Punxsy’s head coach said. “This was a very emotionally draining effort.”
Leading 40-39, the Chucks swiped an Owls pass at half court, and Devin Nicholson cleaned up a Tyler Young miss with a putback to put Punxsy ahead, 42-39 with three seconds left in regulation.
With a foul to give, Punxsy used that foul against Bradford with 1.4 ticks remaining.
Wilber took the inbounds pass and lofted his high-banking 25-foot buzzer-beater home to tie the contest at 42 and force the first overtime period.
The first extra period went back-and-forth.
Punxsy’s chance to miss may have been an omen, as Brandon Mancuso found Cory Geer from five feet away.
Geer’s short jumper went in and came back out to send the affair into a second period of overtime.
The second overtime did not go the visitors' way at all.
“With costly turnovers and bad shot selection, we fell behind in the second overtime and were forced to foul,” explained Neal. “Bradford made its foul shots, and that was the game.”
For the two overtimes, the Owls outscored their foe, 15-7, for the 57-49 final tally.
Bradford has now run off five wins in a row to even its season mark to 7-7 and take the lead in the D-IX League standings at 3-0.
Punxsy fell to 10-4 overall and 2-1 in the District IX play.
“Bradford picks up some momentum (with the win),” noted the Chucks coach. “We will now see what kind of heart we have.”
On the evening, Devin Nicholson paced the Chucks' scoring attack with 13 points.
Geer netted five baskets and two free throws for 12 tallies along with seven rebounds.
Forward Garrett Zimmerman chipped in nine points with three buckets and all three of his charity stripe attempts. The senior also pulled in a team-high 10 caroms.
For the first time on the year, Mancuso fell shy of double figures in points, managing just eight points and grabbing six boards. Young added four points on the night.
Rounding out the scoring were John Matthews and Michael Klingensmith with two and a single point, respectively.
Ahead 19-17, Punxsy rode a wave of momentum into the intermission when Mancuso lofted a long pass ahead to a racing Nicholson, who laid in a layup at the buzzer.
The layup gave the Chucks a 21-17 intermission advantage.
Punxsy continued the momentum swinging into the third quarter.
The visitors took their four-point lead and converted it into 10 points early in the third period.
The Owls chipped away at the deficit until they trailed by only two points, 32-30 after three frames.
“We held Bradford to nine points (in the fourth quarter) until the buzzer,” added Neal. “We will find out what we are made of now, with playing an improved Brookville team Monday and then traveling to DuBois next Friday.”
The Owls were led by Tyler Wilber’s 15 points, while Mike Wilber hit for 14 points.
In the night’s first game, the junior varsity Chucks used a strong second quarter to propel themselves to a 48-38 win over the Owls.
After trailing 8-5, Punxsy raced to a 23-15 halftime lead when it outscored Bradford, 18-7, in the second period.
Matthews downed three triples, a pair of two-pointers and all four of his free throws for 17 points in the JV Chucks’ winning effort.
Clayton Dale finished with nine tallies, while Klingensmith and Will Curtis each had eight points.
Punxsy has a quick turnaround when it hosts Route 36 rival Brookville on Monday night in a 6 p.m. JV tip-off.