PINEDALE – Big Piney found itself up against tough 3A competition at the 2022 Pinedale Boys’ Basketball Winter Classic on Jan. 7-8.
The tournament opened against the Rawlins Outlaws, the 3A East 2021 Conference runner-up. In an explosive first quarter, the Outlaws established a 21-point lead.
A second-quarter rally by the Punchers was not enough to close the gap, and Rawlins eventually took the win, 68-35.
Squaring off against Worland on Saturday morning, the Punchers played a tight first quarter. The Warriors surged ahead in the second quarter and maintained their momentum until the final buzzer sounded with Worland ahead, 78-54.
The final matchup pitted the Punchers against the Thermopolis Bobcats. The Bobcats led by 10 points in the first quarter. Big Piney fought back in the second quarter, but were overwhelmed by a fast and furious Bobcat offense in the third quarter. Thermopolis remained in the lead through a close final quarter to take the win, 87-68.
Pulling out all the stops in the first quarter, the Outlaws outscored Big Piney, 28-7.
The Big Piney defense turned up the heat in the second quarter, holding Rawlins to only eight points while the Punchers scored seven.
The Outlaws unleashed a powerful offense in the third quarter, tossing in 23 points while Big Piney scored 10.
The Punchers held their own in the final quarter, matching their opponent in scoring, 10-10.
Sophomore Reuben Stoutenburg led scoring against Rawlins with 11 points. Senior Seth Stoutenburg tossed in six points, with five points by fellow senior Jade Espenscheid.
Senior Caleb Strong and junior Jovany Munoz each scored four points. Senior Ethan Whiterock and senior Jaspur Brower both scored three points.
Big Piney battled the Warriors point-for-point in a close first quarter.
Worland took the initiative in the second quarter, outscoring the Punchers, 21-7. Strong, Seth Stoutenburg and senior Koy Walton kept Big Piney on the scoreboard.
Worland carried its momentum into the third quarter, scoring 19 points to 10 from Big Piney.
Regrouping in the final quarter, the Punchers tossed in 19 points and held Worland to 14. Munoz led the charge with 10 points, including a pair of outside shots. Reuben Stoutenburg scored a deep 3-pointer. Whiterock, Espenscheid and Seth Stoutenburg each scored two points.
Munoz totaled 18 points against Worland. Seth Stoutenburg shot in 12 points, with Whiterock at nine, Reuben Stoutenburg five and Espenscheid four.
Strong, Walton and Brower added two points apiece to the scorebook.
The Bobcats established a 10-point lead in the first quarter. Walton kept the Puncher offense alive with a six-point run.
Big Piney recovered in the second quarter and played a stronger offense, including a pair of 3-pointers by Rueben Stoutenburg.
Thermopolis steamrolled ahead in the third quarter, scoring 29 points to Big Piney’s 17.
The Punchers made a comeback in the final quarter, outscoring Thermopolis, 23-18. Whiterock sunk two 3-pointers and a jumper.
Four Punchers finished the match in double digits. Munoz and Walton led with 12 points each, Whiterock 11 and Reuben Stoutenburg 10.
Strong scored eight points with Espenscheid and Seth Stoutenburg at four each. Brower, freshman William Hibbert and senior Thomas Barron scored two points apiece. Senior Dustin Martin completed the scorebook with a free throw.