Explosive first quarter carries Puncher boys to victory against Rich County
WYOMING – A powerful Big Piney offense resulted in a commanding 21-12 lead for the Puncher boys’ basketball team in the first quarter of the Jan. 27 home game against the Rich County Rebels.
Big Piney’s first-quarter momentum carried the Punchers through a point-for-point battle in the second and third quarters. The Punchers outscored their opponent, 18-9, in a physical fourth quarter to seal their victory against Rich County, 69-55.
“I thought the boys had a really complete game against Rich County,” said Head Coach Nate Strong. “We played our style of basketball in all phases and were able to beat a good Utah school.”
Big Piney squared off against 2A rival the Shoshoni Wranglers at an away game on Saturday, Jan. 28. The Punchers fought tooth and nail through a neck-and-neck first half and managed to tie the Wranglers multiple times in the third quarter.
Shoshoni pulled ahead by 11 points early in the fourth quarter. Undaunted, Big Piney punched back and closed the gap to a single possession when the final buzzer sounded. Shoshoni posted the win by two points, 55-53.
“I was happy we battled back into the contest making it a 2-point game against Shoshoni,” said Coach Strong. “I think in both games, we learned that when we are stubborn enough to play our style we can be pretty good. However, when we don’t play the brand of basketball we are good at or get focused on outside factors, we aren’t as solid as a team. Hopefully we can focus on controlling the controllables in the future. It was a good weekend of basketball against solid teams.”
Big Piney left it all on the court in the first quarter, netting 21 points to 12 from Rich County.
Junior Reuben Stoutenburg set the tone with a steal in the opening seconds. Stoutenburg made a layup and sophomore Bill Hibbert sunk a jumper.
Stoutenburg scored a 3-pointer. Hibbert snatched a steal and Stoutenburg netted a second outside shot.
Entering the fray, sophomore Ashton Bennett scored a 3-pointer. Sophomore Kelby Staley tossed in 2 points from the free-throw line. Stoutenburg netted a layup and Hibbert broke through the perimeter to score. Senior Jovany Munoz rounded the first quarter out with a layup.
Rich County outpaced Big Piney, 17-15, in a tight second quarter.
Sophomore Cael Espenscheid grabbed a steal. Stoutenburg scored a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer. Espenscheid tossed in a layup and Staley sunk a jumper. Hibbert maneuvered into the paint for a layup. Munoz netted two free throws and a close-range shot.
The Punchers led, 36-29, at halftime.
Rich County caught up to the Punchers in the third quarter, tying the game at 36 points. A 3-pointer from Hibbert placed Big Piney back in the lead. Hibbert netted a jumper and Bennett converted an and-1. Stoutenburg scored 2 points from the charity stripe. Munoz sunk a layup and an outside shot.
The Punchers widened their lead in a physical fourth quarter. Munoz scored 7 points from the free-throw line. Espenscheid scored on a fast break and netted two free throws.
Munoz led the Punchers in scoring against Rich County with 20 points. Stoutenburg netted 19 points, Hibbert 11, Staley 7 and Bennett and Espenscheid 6 apiece.
The Wranglers won the first quarter by a single possession, 14-12.
A jumper by Munoz tied the game at 18 points in the second quarter. Munoz rustled a steal. Bennett made a free throw and Stoutenburg scored a close-range shot to place Big Piney ahead, 21-20.
Shoshoni led by two possessions, 29-24, at halftime.
The initiative passed back and forth in a closely contested third quarter.
Stoutenburg scored on a fast break, tying the game at 29 points. Sophomore Cole Walton nabbed a steal and Hibbert netted a free throw. Munoz forced a turnover and Stoutenburg sunk a pair of free throws for Big Piney to capture the initiative, 32-31.
Hibbert rustled a steal and Munoz scored a layup, widening the Punchers’ lead, 34-31. Hibbert and Stoutenburg tied the game from the charity stripe.
Shoshoni netted a run of 3-pointers to edge up by 11 points in the fourth quarter. A layup by Stoutenburg closed the deficit to 6 points. Defensive pressure by Hibbert and Espenscheid resulted in a turnover and Walton sunk a layup. Munoz beat the buzzer with a layup, narrowing Shoshoni’s lead to a single possession.
Stoutenburg netted 22 points against Shoshoni, Munoz 16, Hibbert 10, Espenscheid and Walton each 2 and Bennett a free throw.
The Punchers host Farson on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Results were not available at press time.
Big Piney hosts Wind River on Saturday, Feb. 4. Game times are 11 a.m. for junior varsity with girls’ varsity playing at 12:30 p.m. and boys’ varsity at 2 p.m.
“Ultimately, Rich County and Shoshoni made us more prepared,” said Coach Strong. “We look forward to the coming week.”