DuBOIS — The Punxsy Friday night comeback started from 25 feet away.
As the first half horn sounded, Brandon Mancuso banked in a long-range halfcourt triple, and the Chucks rode the momentum to the second half to power past the host Beavers, 55-50 in DuBois.
“We were able to get big hoops when we needed them,” explained Punxsy head coach Dirk Neal. “It was a nice team win and a nice team effort.”
The Chucks’ victory was an important one to take the squad to 4-2 in District IX League action and 12-4 overall. The win keeps Punxsy within striking distance of both Elk County Catholic, which will play at Punxsy next Friday night, and Bradford.
The defeat dropped DuBois to 2-3 in D-IX action and 6-10 on the year.
Mancuso knocked down three triples on the night and four two-pointers as part of his 24-point outburst. The guard also dropped seven of his eight free throws through the basket while dishing out a team-high four assists.
Senior Garrett Zimmerman posted a double-double with 19 points off nine buckets and 10 rebounds. The forward added a pair of assists to his line.
Tyler Young chipped in a pair of treys and ended with eight points. The junior grabbed five caroms and handed out three assists.
Cory Geer and Devin Nicholson combined for 13 boards. Geer pulled down seven to go with two assists. Nicholson clutched six rebounds. Both Punxsy players had two points.
Trailing 20-13, Mancuso’s deep heave set up the Punxsy second half charge. The three-pointer cut the Chucks’ deficit to four points, 20-16, as they sprinted to the intermission.
The Punxsy comeback continued into the third period. A quarter owned by the hungry Zimmerman.
After a four-point first half, Zimmerman scored almost half of the visitors’ third frame points with nine.
Leading by a single point, Nicholson stole the ball from DuBois at half court and passed it ahead for a Punxsy layup.
A few moments later, ahead by three, the Chucks swiped another Beavers’ possession and found Zimmerman on the other end for another bucket.
An eight-minute quarter, the Chucks turned into their two-point favor, 38-36, after trailing by four points.
“Garrett grabbed offensive and putback a few baskets, and we were able to find him on our press breakers,” noted Neal. “He was hungry tonight and wanted the ball, and it showed with his double-double.”
The Chucks continued their half of outscoring the Beavers. Punxsy produced three more points than its host, DuBois, 17-14, over the final eight minutes for the five-point victory, 55-50.
After being an Achilles’ heel for a better part of the early season, Punxsy has righted the weakness of foul shooting into a real strength this week.
Behind leading scorer Mancuso, who made all six of his foul attempts on one-and-one trips to the line, Punxsy converted on eight of nine free throws in the final quarter.
On the night, the Chucks made 12 of 15 foul shots with only a single miss in each of the second, third and fourth periods.
“In the last two games, our foul shooting at the line has been huge for us,” pointed out the Punxsy coach.
Neal continued, “Different people have been stepping up for us and that’s what we ask. We also had valuable minutes from our bench. Even though they didn’t score, they were a key part of the win.”
The night did not start out a fruitful for Punxsy. The visiting club struggled in the early part of the contest as DuBois took the opening frame, 9-6, and the second quarter, 11-10.
“We were able to get some shots, but we just weren’t knocking anything down,” said Neal.
DuBois saw three players hit double-digits in defeat.
Junior forward Hunter Lydick had top honors with seven two-pointers for 14 points. Cole Kriner and Jon Mohney joined Lydick with 12 and 10 tallies, respectively.
For only the third time on the season, the junior varsity Chucks fell to defeat.
The Beavers won the opening eight minutes, 12-8, and never gave up the advantage.
The game was still within reach for the JV Chucks, 33-26, after three periods. DuBois made sure it claimed the win by doubling Punxsy up in the fourth, 14-7, for the 47-33 final score.
Will Curtis paced the JV attack with nine points.
Michael Klingensmith and John Matthews each hit for six points. Clayton Dale chipped in five points, and Ryan Sloniger added four tallies.
Brandon Blose rounded out the Punxsy scoring with three.
Punxsy will have the weekend off before playing host to the highly
touted Bald Eagle Area (14-1) on Monday night with a 6 p.m. tipoff.