First-half lull stops Punxsy's upset chances

ST. MARYS — As has been an issue for the Punxsy boys' basketball team for a few years now, a quarter-long scoring drought cost the team an opportunity at keeping up with Elk County Catholic Tuesday night during a 52-33 loss on the road.

Punxsy (3-6, 0-3 District IX League) was ahead 9-2 midway through the first quarter, but then, it couldn't find the bottom of the net.

Twelve minutes and five points scored later, the Chucks were behind 21-14 at halftime before being outpaced 31-19 during the second half of their fourth-straight defeat.

"We played real well and were patient (midway through the first quarter)," Punxsy head coach Dirk Neal said. "Elk plays very good man-to-man defense, but we were able to do what we wanted. But we weren't at times ready for the basketball."

Only three Chucks registered more than two points, led by Daniel Triponey, who scored 10. Logan Weaver followed with nine points, and Jordan Mesoraco had eight. Hurting their chances even more, the Chucks finished 5-of-13 from the free-throw line.

Weaver added five rebounds and three assists, Darren Pifer pulled down five boards and had two points, and both Luke Janocha and Ian Miller scored two points.

Punxsy dropped to 1-4 on the road this season.

"We don't play well on the road. We have to get over that," Neal said. "We didn't play bad defense for the most part. We gave up some easy baskets here and there."

Leading the Crusaders (6-3, 1-1) in scoring was Ricky Pearsall, who tallied all of his 12 points during the second half. Balanced scoring ensued, with Tyler Herzing and Ben Daghir managing nine points each, and Darren Simons totaled eight.

Elk County nailed seven three-pointers to Punxsy's two in the game.

The Chucks hope to return to their winning ways when they host Karns City at noon Saturday. The game was originally scheduled for 2 p.m., but was pushed back due to the Steelers' playoff game beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Karns City (3-5) — which hosts Kittanning tonight — suffered one of its five losses this season against Redbank Valley Monday. One of Punxsy's three victories is against the Bulldogs.

"Hopefully, the weather cooperates with us, and we can get three good practices," Neal said. "We need an offensive game where we just break out and everybody plays well."