South Fork claims Regional title over Pawnee, 31-30
KINCAID — Pictured above is the South Fork 7th grade boys basketball team. The Regional Champs are as follows. Front row left to right: Beck Swinger, Griff Swinger, Colton Puccetti, Austyn Davis, Hunter Peel and Landon Fleming.
Middle row: Ronan Mayer, Michael Foil, Carter Foil, Bentley Dial, Hudson Hout, Jacob Hughes and Jackson Harwood. Back row: Asst. Coach Grant Grahm, Asst. Coach John Mayer and Head Coach Dan Puccetti.
Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Sports Editor
KINCAID — The Ponies clinched the 7th Grade Regional Championship with a win over Pawnee on Thursday, Jan. 26. The War of 104 boys basketball game was a back and forth battle with the Indians mounting a late-game comeback in the fourth quarter. However, South Fork held on taking the trophy and the win with them, 31-30 the final.
Though they were at home the Ponies were scored as the “away” team on the scored board. They started off hot, hot, hot with two straight three-pointers coming from Beck Swinger. The sixth grader finished the game with 6 points in the contest.
“We have a unique team.” says Head Coach Dan Puccetti “We’re guard heavy and I’ve stressed to these guys all year long that if we play physical defense, we rebound and we hustle it will make up for that lack of size that we have. We’re starting two sixth graders and three seventh graders that are key contributors.”
Moving into the second quarter South Fork continued to own the first half. The other starting sixth grader the coach had previously mentioned was Austyn Davis. He contributed by lending his power down low through means of defense and rebounding. As did Michael Foil who set big body screens for his teammates.
The Ponies held a commanding lead headed into halftime, 17-9. With Pawnee holding just a tad bit of the momentum they surged back in the third quarter with four quick points in the first minute from intermission. The Indians could not hold back the physicality fouling both Colton Puccetti and Griff Swinger who reached the free throw line multiple times throughout the game. The offense flowed through the two seventh grade guards. The combined for 25 points in the Regional Championship match.
“Pawnee knows us very well and they knew who to key in on. These guys have been playing basketball for a long time. I try to teach these kids the little things and hope that when they are put in these situations they understand what they need to do to finish out a ball game. ” Puccetti states as humble as can be.
The last few minutes of the game really showed how special both of these teams are. The Indians had climbed all the way back from being down 11 at the start of the fourth quarter. Jace Janakousky and Ty Leaderbrand hit massive game-altering threes which had the Ponies nervous. The two players combined for 21 of the Indians total points. With time running out South Fork sliced a sizable chunk of time off the clock. The buzzer sounded and the South Fork boys basketball team had came out on top in an exciting Regional Championship game, 31-30.
“While we were rattled in an intense environment like that and with so much meaning behind this game… for us to deal with that adversity, take their best shot and still come out here and persevere, man, that is such a rewarding feeling. And to do it with this group of seventh graders, is remarkable.”
The South Fork vs Pawnee matchup is a stout one, especially in the past two years. The teams have played each other four times and have split down the middle, 2-2.
The Ponies move onto Sectionals with a 22-3 record and the drive that would make any coach proud!
“These kids continue to impress me each and every day. It feels really rewarding for us to beat a good quality team for something so special.”
KINCAID — (Left) Colton Puccetti (#25) drives past his Pawnee opponent with help from his teammate Austyn Davis’ (#24) screen. Puccetti ended the Regional Championship match with 10 points.
Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Photo