Weaver's clutch free throws lift Punxsy

PUNXSUTAWNEY — With the game knotted at 40 and two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Punxsy's Logan Weaver stepped to the free throw line for a chance to become the hero for the Chucks.

That's exactly what he did.

Weaver knocked down the front end of a one-and-one and drilled the second shot, and the Chucks picked up an exciting 42-40 victory over Harmony Wednesday night in Punxsy.

The Chucks were looking to drive the ball into the paint when they took over possession with seven seconds remaining in the game, and were fouled along the baseline with four seconds on the clock.

Punxsy inbounded the ball and was pushed from behind by a Harmony player, just enough to get the foul called and put Weaver to the line.

From there, Weaver did the rest.

"Who else would you want on the line?" Punxsy head coach Dirk Neal said. "It's not like we were trying to put the ball in his hands. Daniel (Triponey) came down and got him the ball, and it was a good read on his part. It's not like we had anything set up, it was just being aggressive and getting to the basket."

Harmony called a timeout following Weaver's first made free throw, trying to set up a play in case Weaver made the second shot. There was a question of whether or not Weaver would miss the back end of the free throw attempts on purpose and let the clock wind down, but for Neal, there were too many variables at risk to miss the shot purposely.

"There are two sides to every coin. What if somebody comes over the back? What if you tell them to make sure you don't go over someone's back, and the ball comes off the rim and you go at it?" Neal said. "You have a tendency to go for it, and if we go over the back there, we're walking to the other end for (Harmony) to shoot foul shots. In the same breath, if we make it, they have two seconds to inbound the ball and go the distance."

Harmony nearly pulled off the stunning blow as time expired as a long inbounds pass the length of the floor set up an open three-point attempt.

Lucklily for Punxsy, the ball hit iron, and the Chucks (2-2) earned the victory.

"I thought it was in," Neal said of the game-ending shot.

While both teams went back and forth in the final minutes of the game, neither team could find the hoop during the first half in an offensively-challenged first quarter that finished with Punxsy sporting a 4-2 lead.

The second frame wasn't much better for either squad as a last-second heave from mid-court by Harmony connected, leaving the game tied at 14 by halftime.

"We're getting open looks, but just not stepping up and knocking them down when we need them," Neal said. "It's just a matter of time before we open the door and let the flood gates open."

The scoring picked up in the third quarter as both teams traded baskets before Punxsy took a one-point lead into the final frame, 27-26.

After Alex Fedigan knocked down a three-pointer to put Punxsy ahead 40-38 in the final minute, Harmony answered with a basket to tie the score.

While offense came at a premium for both teams Wednesday, it was the overall play by both defenses that stood out.

That wasn't lost on Neal.

"(The defense was) fantastic," Neal said. "That's our cup of tea. We knew with everything knew this year, we would struggle putting the ball in the basket. We knew that our defense would be our cup of tea."

Triponey led the way for Punxsy with 14 points, while Weaver finished with 12.

The Chucks return to action next week when they host Clarion Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. for Punxsy's Holiday Tournament.