Crusaders crunch Chucks

ST. MARYS — Tradition held true on the basketball court on Tuesday night.

The District IX league long-standing tradition of Elk County Catholic's gymnasium being the toughest place to play in the area was a reality, as the Crusaders crunched the Chucks, 50-30, in boys' basketball.

The night started off like many have up to this point of the season for Punxsy.

The Chucks (8-3) lit the scoreboard for nine of the contest's first 11 points for a 9-2 lead. Brandon Mancuso produced two scoring drives into the lane and popped a triple to spur the visiting advantage.

Behind by the early seven-point difference, Elk County Catholic (7-3) brought in what turned out to be super-sub Cory Huff.

The 6-5 junior brought the Crusaders back all by himself.

Huff netted all 12 ECC points the rest of the first quarter as the home team 
went on a 12-2 run to pull ahead 14-11 and never trailed the rest of the night.

"We were up 9-2 and ended the game with 30 points. We were totally dominated in every quarter," explained Punxsy head coach Dirk Neal. "ECC played its very good man-to-man, and we didn't react. We didn't come off screens."

Mancuso struck for double figures for the 11th time in as many games to lead the Chucks' cause.

The junior accounted for 13 of the team's 30 points with five baskets and a three-pointer.

The rest of the Punxsy squad did not see another player total more than four points.

Ryan Sloniger banked in two baskets for four points to go with four rebounds.

Garrett Zimmerman led the glass work with five caroms and three tallies.

Both Cory Geer and Michael Klingensmith pulled down four boards and added two points.

Tyler Young, Devin Nicholson and Matt Burkett rounded out the scorers with two apiece.

The Chucks battled to within four points, 23-19, near the end of the second period but could get no closer.

The Crusaders scored the game's next basket and added a foul shot for a 26-19 intermission tally.

The second half did not see the visiting team fare any better. Punxsy was outscored 13-7 and 11-4 for what would be a 50-30 final score.

The Chucks 30-point output was a season-low.

The team managed 37 points against the high-flying Indiana squad last Monday, Jan. 4.

"ECC was hungry tonight. They needed to win to get back on track and did," finished Neal.

The junior varsity matchup did not produce any better results for Punxsy.

Like the varsity beginning, the JV Chucks started off solidly. Punxsy took away a 20-13 first-seven-minutes lead.

The Punxsy advantage would last but one more quarter. ECC fought back with a 15-10 second period to pull within 30-28 at the half.

The JV Crusaders continued the momentum with another 15-10 period in the third before taking the final quarter, 18-10, and the game 61-50.

Clayton Dale produced a season-best 13 points to lead the JV Chucks. Sloniger chipped in 11 points as the other double-figure scorer.

Will Curtis and John Matthews netted six points apiece. Klingensmith, Matt Burkett and Andy Fedigan each added four points, while Jared Burkett had two.

Punxsy will have three days off before hosting a rare Saturday night opponent in DuBois Central Catholic starting at 6 p.m.