Lady Punchers hold their own at Winter Classic


RAWLINS – The Big Piney girls’ basketball team trailed the 3A Worland Warriors by eight points midway through the fourth quarter of the first game at the Rawlins Girls’ Basketball Winter Classic on Jan. 7-8.

Taking possession, the Punchers moved the ball down the court. Senior Jocie Banks caught a pass outside the perimeter and landed a 3-pointer.

Senior Sierra Keiter forced a turnover on Worland’s next possession. Banks took the ball, maneuvered inside Worland’s defense for a close-range shot, reducing the deficit to three points.

Worland attempted to score, but the ball bounced off the rim. Senior Hanna Hansen rebounded and sent it down the court. Fellow senior Lena Hatch found an opening, wedged past Worland’s defenders, and scored.

Keiter made a free throw, tying the game, 38-38, with less than 30 seconds remaining on the clock.

The Warriors managed to score in the final seconds and won by a single possession, 40-38.

The game against Worland proved Big Piney’s ability to run point-for-point with a larger opponent, demonstrating its competitive edge and team cohesion.

Big Piney went on to play Buffalo, falling 59-30, and lost to Mountain View, 63-45.

The final tally did not accurately reflect the Puncher’s resolve against big names in the 3A division, though, particularly a hard-fought second half against Mountain View.

“It felt good we were able to compete again this weekend and I think we got better with each game against some tough 3A schools,” said head coach Brian Espenscheid. “I felt the seniors girls were spot on and we had reserve players that stepped up and did a good job.”

Worland

Big Piney won the first quarter, 14-13. Hatch opened with a layup, followed by a pair of 3-pointers by Banks. Junior Shelby Guest tossed in a 3-pointer, tying the match at 12 points.

Banks snatched a steal, setting Hansen up to score a close-range shot.

Worland outscored Big Piney, 8-7, in a close second quarter. Hansen and Keiter kept the Punchers on the scoreboard.

Worland took the initiative early in the third quarter until Hansen grabbed a steal, sending the ball down the court to Banks. Banks landed a shot inside the perimeter, tying the match at 25 points.

Junior Bailey Wing snatched the ball away from Worland, allowing junior Hannah Runyan to score a jumper.

Following Big Piney’s rally in the fourth quarter, Worland managed to score the buzzer-beater to take the win.

Banks led in scoring at 16 points. Hansen added 10 points to the tally, followed by Hatch with four. Guest and Keiter tossed in three points apiece with Runyan rounding the scorebook out with two.

“Worland was a really good game,” said coach Espenscheid. “Worland’s a pretty decent team, they have plenty of size, and we really could have won it. I felt really good about the effort and performance from the team.”

Buffalo

Buffalo outmaneuvered the Punchers in the first half, hitting the court fast and furious, ending the second quarter ahead, 32-12.

The Punchers rallied in the third quarter, coming close to matching Buffalo in scoring. Banks once again proved her accuracy from outside the perimeter with a 3-pointer. Hansen, senior Autumn Wright and Keiter each scored 2-pointers.

Buffalo widened the gap in the fourth quarter, though Big Piney threw several punches. Hansen converted an and-1 twice and Banks scored a breakaway layup.

Hansen led in scoring with 17 points, followed by Banks with eight, Keiter three and Wright two.

“We were kind of shell-shocked by Buffalo’s intensity in the second quarter, but I’m really proud of how the girls played in the second half,” said Espenscheid.

Mountain View

Mountain View struck early in the first quarter, though Big Piney closed the gap to three points with an outside shot by Banks and close-range shots each from Hansen and Banks.

Senior Ceci Sambrano scored a 3-pointer early in the second quarter. Hatch tossed in a close-range shot, keeping Big Piney within four points of its opponent.

Mountain View scored 22 points in the third quarter, though Big Piney kept the Buffaloes on their feet with 16 points. Sambrano and Banks both scored deep 3-pointers.

Mountain View outscored Big Piney by only three points, 17-14, in a closely fought final quarter. Hatch and Banks sunk a 3-pointer apiece and Wright, Hatch, Sambrano and Hansen each added two points to the tally.

The Punchers finished the game with a nice point spread across seven players. Banks shot in 11 points with Hansen at 10.

Sambrano scored eight points, Hatch seven and Keiter five. Junior Sharianne Brower and Wright tossed in two points apiece.

“Mountain View is a really talented and athletic team,” said Espenscheid. “I felt like in the second half, we did a good job staying within a dozen points of Mountain View off and on.”

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