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South Fork secures Sectional Championship against Triopia

PAWNEE — The 2022-’23 South Fork Ponies 7th grade Sectional Championship team. Front row from left to right: Griff Swinger, Beck Swinger, Colton Puccetti, Austyn Davis, Hunter Peel and Landon Fleming.

Middle row: Michael Foli, Carter Foli, Hudson Hout, Bentley Dial, Jacob Hughes, Jackson Harwood and Ronan Mayer.

Back row: Head Coach Dan Puccetti, Asst. Coach John Mayer and Asst. Coach Grant Graham.  

Lucas Domonousky 

Breeze-Courier Sports Editor

PAWNEE — All smiles coming out of Pawnee High School Gymnasium on Monday, Jan. 30 as the South Fork 7th grade boys basketball team defeated the Triopia Trojans, 31-30. The victory came on a last second shot by Beck Swinger which earned the Ponies their first Sectional title for boys Class 7-2 A in School history.

The Sectional match was all South Fork in the first half and most of the third quarter. It was midway through the third when Triopia started to shift the momentum in a big way. After having the lead for most of the game the Ponies suddenly found themselves down 30-24. 

Ponies seventh grader Griff Swinger hits a massive three-pointer to put South Fork within 3. He finished with a game leading 18 points. It was teammate Hudson Hout who was sent to the line and knocked down both free throws making it a one point game. Triopia got too fancy and botched the inbound giving South Fork all the ball with time running out plus all the momentum there was to give. The Ponies inbound the ball, shoot and who was there to grab the rebound? None other than Beck Swinger. He put the ball right up from mid-range giving the Ponies the lead with just 7 seconds left. Beck finished the match with 5 points total. With the crowd on their side South Fork watched as the Triopia shot wained just short, the buzzer sounded and they were crowned Sectional Champions.

“I am overwhelmed with emotion.” Head Coach Dan Puccetti said after the 31-30 win over the Trojans. “Man oh man! Just a heck of a finish for us and of all kids Beck Swinger comes through in the middle of the giants and gets a lay up. What a great finish!” 

What a finish indeed. I caught up with both Beck and Griff Swinger to get an insight to the emotions flowing through them. 

“Coach Puccetti really gets us pumped and stays in it even when we’re down.” says Griff. 

“A lot of the shots went in and out. That was tougher us to get some shots to fall.” Beck Swinger comments on hitting the shot of his life. “I couldn’t believe it. Ive never done that. I just hope we can play good at State and hopefully take home some hardware.”

Back to a very ecstatic Coach Puccetti.

“We’ve been here before.” Coach said on how he and the boys were able to stay positive. “We always talk about how we either win or we learn. We only had three losses on the year so its hard for me to sit back and think of those three individual losses defining our season. When push comes to shove, they finish.” 

Austyn Davis and Colton Puccetti helped their team by combining for 4 points in the well deserved victory.

“My heart goes out to the Triopia boys. They have a hell of a basketball team. Well coached, they play hard, they’re physical. We knew their bigs were going to give us problems but I stressed meaner, tougher stronger; defense, rebound, hustle. Their height gave us challenges but our kids didn’t quit. My heart breaks for Triopia but I cannot be more proud of our boys and what they’ve accomplished this year.”

Coach Puccetti was, and is, in tune with his emotions. He was on a roller coaster last night and took the time to thank the fans for all of their support the 7th grade team has received this season. 

“Just a quick shoutout to all the support.” Puccetti states. “We’ve had our community behind us during this. I couldn’t be more pleased. The last two games the fans were packed in the stands and the atmosphere was intense. It almost feels like a Friday night varsity basketball game. I’ve told them and preached to them don’t take these things for granted. I just hope they live and breathe every single minute of this because you may not ever get another chance.”

Next up for South Fork (23-3), the State Tournament. They will be playing at Macon-Meridian High School this coming Saturday, Feb. 4. The First Round matchup will be against Colfax Ridgeview (17-8). Tip-off will come at 2:30 p.m.      


PAWNEE — South Fork Head Coach Dan Puccetti guides Beck Swinger during a free throw in the second quarter. Swinger finished the match with 5 points, two of which came from a mid-range to secure the Ponies’ Sectional Championship victory. 

1 Comment

  1. Miles Norris on January 31, 2023 at 4:31 pm

    Griff is the goat

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