Chucks endure another close loss to Dutch

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Being competitive hasn't been enough for the Punxsy boys' basketball team, as even though it kept things close with District IX League-leading St. Marys Tuesday night, the Chucks suffered their 17th-straight league loss, 52-45.

Punxsy (4-7, 0-4 District IX League) trailed by just two points with 1:28 left before St. Marys (10-3, 4-1) inbounded the ball to Jimmy Werner, who quickly finished under the basket. Werner's hoop started the Flying Dutchmen's game-winning 5-0 run that finished off the Chucks.

All season, Punxsy has been able to stay with its league rivals, but hasn't been able to finish games.

"We just aren't in the mindset. We just haven't won enough games to have that little confidence level, and when push comes to shove with a couple minutes to go in the game, we're still pressing ourselves," Punxsy head coach Dirk Neal said. "We're worrying about both ends of the floor instead of just focusing on the task at hand."

The Chucks were ahead 35-33 with 2:20 left in the third when a 10-0 run in St. Marys' favor put the Dutch on top 43-35 with 5:49 left.

"We can't get in a rut like that where we have to come down game after game and need baskets like that," Neal said. "That's just putting more pressure on the kids when a two-point game goes to eight."

Punxsy was able to work its way back into the game thanks to a 10-4 surge behind seven Logan Weaver points and a three-point play by Daniel Triponey with 2:12 remaining. But that was the last of Punxsy's scoring, as a Punxsy turnover followed Werner's basket before Ryan Uhl made it a six-point game at 51-45 with 48 seconds left.

"We have to win, and I think that confidence will come once we start winning," Neal said. "We play hard and play with teams, but that's just not good enough. We have to get those wins and get better."

Neal said that rather than becoming more patient down the stretch, Punxsy begins to put more pressure on itself when looking at the scoreboard.

"We just have to relax, take our time and run the offense," he said.

Justin Quiggle scored a game-high 21 points for the Dutch. He had 13 points by halftime. Uhl added 12 points off the bench, and Werner scored 11 points.

Dylan Reigel, who scored 24 points on Brookville Jan. 4, was held to just two points Tuesday.

Weaver led all Punxsy scorers with 16 points. He added seven rebounds and two steals.

Weaver was followed by Triponey (10 points, three assists), Jordan Mesoraco (eight points, six rebounds), Alex Fedigan (five points) and Darren Pifer (five points).

Punxsy did away with a 6-1 deficit by finishing the first quarter on a 9-2 run. The Chucks improved their 10-8 lead after one quarter to 18-13 midway through the second frame before St. Marys scored 11 of the first half's final 13 points. A basket by Pifer with 1:07 left help Punxsy advert an 11-0 run in the Dutch's favor to close out the second quarter.

Punxsy's largest lead for the remainder of the game was four points at 31-27 before the Dutch flipped the script with a 16-4 turnaround during the next seven minutes.

The Chucks return to the road Friday to play another team without a league win this season, Bradford. The Owls (3-10, 0-3) are coming off a 57-39 home loss to DuBois Tuesday. Punxsy is 1-4 on the road this season, while all but one of the Owls' wins have come in Bradford.