Poor defense carries Chucks toward 62-55 loss

INDIANA — Two Chucks scored 20-plus points, but the Punxsy boys' basketball team didn't play enough defense while losing to one-win Indiana Wednesday night, 62-55.

Experience was in Punxsy's favor, as all nine of the Chucks (3-4) who played are seniors or juniors. Indiana (2-9), meanwhile, received 18 of its season-high 62 points from three freshmen.

Punxsy first-year head coach Dirk Neal, who has stressed a team that defends with intensity and enthusiasm since he took the job, wasn't the least bit pleased with the way his defense performed Wednesday.

"It came down to not playing man-to-man defense. That's the bottom line," Neal said. "We came over here and laid an egg, and I just can't imagine and won't accept the fact that the kids thought we could come over and walk all over Indiana."

Though it plays outside of District IX, which means more difficult opponents, Indiana entered the game with a 1-9 record, having lost eight-straight games in the process.

"We preached all week that they play in the WPIAL, and it's a tough section. They play against some hard opponents compared to some of the ones that are on our schedule," Neal said. "I can't accept the fact that we took them lightly. We just have to get better defensively and find five guys that want to play."

Punxsy junior Logan Weaver scored a game-high 24 points, and junior Daniel Triponey followed with 20 points, but the Chucks didn't receive much after that one-two punch.

Seniors Corban Cressley (seven points) and Jordan Mesoraco (four points) rounded out Punxsy's scoring.

Punxsy was unable to contain junior Tyrayl Veney, who scored 13 of his team-best 18 points during the first half. Junior Alex Pettina had 13 points, senior Andrew Mack added 11 points, and freshman DeQuan West followed with 10 points, including eight during the first two quarters.

Punxsy led by as many as seven points at 23-16 early in the second quarter, but the Indians were able to take a 36-35 advantage into halftime.

Things continued to go downhill for the Chucks during the third quarter, as they were outscored 14-4. Punxsy committed seven of its 15 turnovers during the third frame, including a turnover during four of five possessions after Weaver put the Chucks ahead 37-36 with 7:51 left in the quarter.

While Punxsy was making one miscue after another, Indiana revved up its offense and finished the quarter on a 14-2 run.

The Chucks were able to work their way into the game late, as a pair of Weaver free throws made it a 57-55 contest with 37 seconds left. Those were Punxsy's final points, as after Mack drained two foul shots with 33 seconds left, a Punxsy turnover sealed Indiana's win.

The Chucks return to the court to face Brookville at 6 p.m. Friday at home. Brookville (8-1, 2-1 District IX League), which is coming off its first loss of the season, beat Punxsy 50-42 Dec. 17.