KNOX — After a tough stretch of games, the Chucks were able to bounce back into the win column on Monday night.
Punxsy did what it needed to do, including using a new defense, to prevail over Keystone, 55-45.
“It was a great comeback win after being down last week and losing three games,” stressed Chucks head coach Dirk Neal. “We bounced back against a nice 14-win team in Keystone, which was in a must win game for them. The kids really hustled and did the little things they had to do to win.”
The visiting Chucks (13-7) held the Panthers at arm's length in the second half with a six- to seven-point lead before going to the foul line for the double-figure victory.
The big night came from senior Devin Nicholson. He pumped in a career-high 21 points, including four triples on the night. His final first-half trey gave Punxsy the momentum heading into the half. Nicholson also pulled in seven rebounds, with three coming on the offensive end.
Brandon Mancuso joined Nicholson in double-digits with 14 points on six buckets. The guard grabbed five caroms.
Garrett Zimmerman missed another double-double by a slight margin with eight points and eight rebounds.
Cory Geer and Ryan Sloniger completed the Chucks’ scoring with six points apiece. Geer pulled down seven boards, with three off the offensive glass.
Sloniger put in all his points in the first 16 minutes.
“We received big contributions from Sloniger in the first half when he scored all six of his points,” noted the Punxsy leader.
Keystone finished with two players scoring more than 10 points. Tyler Beichner netted 18 points, while Adam Lencer scored 11 tallies.
Punxsy pulled out a new trick from its arsenal to begin the game. The Chucks ran a new defense they had not shown all season and experienced good success.
“We ran a different kind of defense. Keystone didn’t score against it, as seven of its points in the first quarter all came on second efforts on the offensive end,” added Neal.
The Chucks finished the first period with a slight one-point edge, 11-10.
The visitors continued to hold the slim advantage, 25-24, until the final possession of the first half.
In the final seconds of the second frame, Mancuso handed out a key assist when he found Nicholson in the corner for a three-pointer to end the first half, 28-24.
The two foes had a back-and-forth third period but the Chucks maintained a 36-33 lead.
Punxsy could not pull away from the quality Keystone (14-7) club.
The Chucks held a six- to seven-point lead for most of the final stanza.
After not making a single trip to the foul line for the first three quarters, Punxsy toed the line nine times in the final period.
The Chucks connected on five of their attempts, with Mancuso making two of four and Nicholson making his try to complete a three-point play.
Punxsy was able to take the final period by a 19-12 tally to secure the victory, 55-45.
“We received quality time from the four players who didn’t score tonight. Zimmerman also scored all eight of his points in the second half,” said Neal.
The Punxsy tough three-game week will continue on Wednesday night. It hosts state-ranked Bald Eagle Area with the junior varsity starting at 6 p.m. before hosting District IX rival Bradford Friday night with the same tip time.
The junior varsity Chucks escaped with their own win over the Panthers.
Despite not making a single field goal in the fourth frame, Punxsy prevailed, 41-40, over Keystone.
The JV Chucks held a 29-17 halftime lead and a 39-21 cushion after three periods. Punxsy would need the full amount of its lead for the win.
Keystone stormed back by taking the fourth period, 19-2, and allowed Punxsy to score only two foul shots by Will Curtis.
Curtis finished as the JV Chucks’ leading scorer with 10 points.
Clayton Dale added nine points, and Andy Fedigan had six.
Both John Matthews and Michael Klingensmith netted five tallies.
Sloniger, Brandon Blose and Jared Burkett chipped in two points apiece.