KEMMERER – An explosive second half by the Big Piney High School Lady Puncher offense and defense propelled the team to a resounding 41-19 victory against Farson at the Fossil County Classic Tournament hosted by Kemmerer on Jan. 6-7.
Big Piney’s walloping of Farson more than made up for a tough loss to non-conference rival Star Valley, 54-33, on Friday evening.
The Lady Punchers fought the Cokeville Lady Panthers in a physical game on Saturday evening. Cokeville dominated the first half to establish a 15-point lead early in the third quarter.
Undaunted, the Lady Punchers managed to cut the deficit in half. While Big Piney ultimately came up short, the Lady Punchers hounded Cokeville in the second half, matching their opponent point for point.
“Generally, I was really pleased because I feel like we got better over the course of the weekend – it’s always good to see progress,” said Head Coach Brian Espenscheid. “In the Farson game, we were rattled around in the first half and then the second half our defense got really good. Cokeville was a real shining light because they’re a tough team. They put it on us the first time we played and we made it a good game the whole way. We stayed really competitive with them and we were able to maintain our focus and maintain our effort for all four quarters. The girls felt good about their performance against Cokeville. They all head their heads up.”
Big Piney won a close first quarter against the Lady Braves, 10-8. Sophomore Micah Strong scored on a fast break. Senior Rayne Wheeler snatched a steal and netted a close-range shot.
Fellow senior Shelby Guest tossed in a layup. Sophomore Chelsea Wright broke into the perimeter to score. Senior Sharianne Brower topped the quarter off with a jumper.
Star Valley took the lead, 24-21, at halftime.
Senior Hannah Runyan opened the second quarter with a close-range shot. Brower rustled a steal and Wheeler netted a layup. Runyan and Wheeler both scored a point from the charity stripe.
Defensive pressure by Runyan and Brower forced a turnover and Brower tossed in a jumper.
With less than a second remaining in the first half, Brower swished a deep, buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Star Valley widened its lead in the third quarter to 39-24 as the fourth quarter commenced.
The Lady Panthers outpaced Big Piney, 15-9, in the final eight minutes.
Setting the rhythm in a physical first quarter, the Lady Punchers’ offense tallied 9 points while holding Farson to 5.
Wheeler opened the game with a jumper. Guest followed with a layup. Runyan grabbed a steal and sophomore Sienna Whiterock made a basket at the charity stripe.
Whiterock forced a turnover and netted a close-range shot. Freshman Brylie Bailey rounded the quarter out with 2 points.
Farson fought to close the gap in the second quarter. Big Piney led, 13-11, when the halftime buzzer sounded.
A reenergized Lady Punchers’ offense overwhelmed Farson in the third quarter, netting 15 points. The Big Piney defense closed ranks and held Farson to 4 points.
Brower made her way into the paint to score. Runyan and Strong each netted a close-range shot. Brower nabbed a steal and took advantage of an opening inside the perimeter to score.
Defensive pressure by Brower and Bailey led to a turnover. Bailey tossed in a jumper, widening Big Piney’s lead to 10 points, 23-13.
Whiterock scored a free throw. Greene caught an offensive rebound and scored. Bailey and Runyan each made a steal and Wheeler scored a close-range shot.
Maintaining the pressure, Big Piney outscored Farson, 13-4, in the fourth quarter. Brower and Strong both scored a point from the free-throw line. Brower netted a jumper and a 3-pointer. Runyan broke through the perimeter to score and Big Piney found itself up 20 points, 27-17.
Greene snatched a steal and scored a close-range shot.
Brower led scoring against Farson with 10 points. Runyan contributed 6 points and Strong scored 5. Wheeler, Guest, Whiterock, Bailey and Greene each tallied 4 points.
The Lady Panthers led by 11 points, 31-19, at halftime.
Rallying in the third quarter, Big Piney tied Cokeville in scoring, 15-15.
Strong netted 6 points, with 5 points from Wheeler. Wheeler converted an and-1, reducing the deficit to 8 points.
Whiterock rustled a steal and made a close-range shot, keeping Cokeville’s lead to 8 points.
The Lady Punchers again matched Cokeville point for point in the final quarter with both teams scoring 8 points. Freshman Lizzy Brandt closed out the game with a steal.
Runyan netted 12 points against Cokeville, Wheeler 10, Strong 8, with 5 apiece by Brower and Whiterock and 2 from Bailey.
The Punchers host Kemmerer for their first home games on Friday, Jan. 13. Junior varsity plays at 4 p.m., followed by girls’ varsity at 5:30 p.m.