Lady Punchers overwhelm St. Stephens
BIG PINEY – The Big Piney Lady Punchers basketball team kicked off a rollercoaster weekend with a decisive 57-41 victory against 2A Southwest Quadrant rival St. Stephens at the Puncher Gym on Friday, Feb. 10.
A powerful Puncher offense scored 17 points in the first quarter while the Big Piney defense closed ranks to hold St. Stephens to 10 points.
The Lady Punchers battled St. Stephens through a neck-and-neck second quarter to maintain the initiative, 29-21, at halftime.
Bursting with energy in the third quarter, a coordinated Lady Puncher offense more than doubled St. Stephens in scoring to remain ahead through a close fourth quarter.
“The kids played well,” said Head Coach Brian Espenscheid. “It’s hard to beat a team three times, so that’s always good. Friday was Senior Night – a big shoutout to Shelby Guest, Sharianne Brower, Rayne Wheeler and Hannah Runyan. It takes a lot to get to Senior Night – it’s quite a commitment. You put on four years for basketball, the long seasons. It’s a testament to them that they stuck it out. They’ve been super good kids. They’ve been a success and they will be a success from here on.”
Big Piney hosted conference opponent Wyoming Indian High School (WIHS) on Saturday, Feb. 11. The Lady Punchers won a physical first quarter, 6-2, before WIHS pulled ahead in the second half to score a 54-24 win.
“We were really pleased at how we played in the first half, that’s as good as we’ve played all year,” said Espenscheid. “The season is winding down, try not to take it for granted and leave it all out there. I feel like we’re playing our best basketball. We’ve got a real good chance at Regionals.”
The Lady Punchers overpowered St. Stephens, 17-10, in the first quarter.
Senior Hannah Runyan kicked off scoring for Big Piney with a jumper. Sophomore Micah Strong netted a layup, snatched a steal and broke through the perimeter to score a second layup.
Senior Sharianne Brower nabbed a steal, allowing senior Rayne Wheeler to toss in 2 points from the charity stripe.
Freshman Lizzy Brandt forced a turnover. Fellow freshman Kodee Greene converted an and-1. Defensive pressure by Brandt and freshman Brylie Bailey resulted in a turnover. Bailey netted an inside shot and Runyan sunk a jumper. Brandt snapped up a steal on St. Stephens’ final possession of the first quarter.
Big Piney outscored St. Stephens, 29-21, in a tight second quarter. Runyan made two shots from the charity stripe. Wheeler found an opening in the perimeter to score. Strong netted a jumper.
Wheeler scored 4 points from the free-throw line and followed up with a close-range shot. Bailey sunk a jumper.
Big Piney led, 29-21, at halftime.
Roaring onto the court in the third quarter, Big Piney scored 15 points while an unyielding defense held St. Stephens to 6.
Wheeler netted an outside shot and forced a turnover. Strong and Runyan both scored from the charity stripe.
Brandt made two steals in a row. Bailey and Wheeler stepped up to the free-throw line to score. Wheeler sunk a close-range shot. Runyan tossed in a jumper. Brandt rounded out the third quarter with a pair of layups.
St. Stephens outpaced Big Piney, 14-13, in the final quarter, though the effort was too little, too late.
Three Lady Punchers scored double digits against St. Stephens – Wheeler netted 14 points, Strong 13 and Runyan 11. Brandt tallied 8 points, Greene and Brandt 4 apiece and senior Shelby Guest 3.
Big Piney won the first quarter, 6-2. WIHS dominated the second quarter, 17-4, to take the lead, 19-10, at halftime. WIHS remained in control through the third quarter for the win, 54-24.
The Lady Puncher offense found its footing in the final 8 minutes of regulation, scoring 10 points. Strong netted a layup. Greene scored a 3-pointer and went on to snatch a steal. Brower forced a turnover, setting Brandt up to score an inside shot. Bailey sunk a jumper and Brandt nabbed a steal.
Runyan scored 6 points against WIHS, Greene 5, Strong 4, Brandt 3, with 2 apiece from Brower, Wheeler and Bailey.
The Punchers travel to play cross-county rival Pinedale on Thursday, Feb. 16. Girls’ varsity plays at 5:30 p.m. Big Piney hits the road again to play Kemmerer on Friday, Feb. 17.