Lady Punchers pick up first win at Bridger Valley Tournament


BRIDGER VALLEY – The 2022-2023 girls’ basketball season opened with the Big Piney Lady Punchers scoring their first win against the 1A Farson Lady Pronghorn at the Bridger Valley Tournament on Thursday, Dec. 8.

Lyman and Mountain View high schools hosted the three-day event from Dec. 8-10. The Big Piney Lady Puncher varsity squad played one non-conference rival each day.

On Thursday, Farson came out strong in the first quarter, taking the lead, 12-8. Finding their rhythm in the second quarter, the Lady Punchers replied with a powerful offense and tighter defense. Big Piney more than doubled the Lady Pronghorn in scoring during the second and third quarters to surge ahead for the win.

Friday’s action featured a showdown between Big Piney and the defending 3A State runner-up, the Lyman Lady Eagles. Lyman overwhelmed the Lady Punchers in the first quarter, establishing a double-digit lead that proved difficult to overcome. The Lady Eagles scored a 60-11 win.

Big Piney fell to the 1A Cokeville Lady Panthers on Saturday, 63-40.

“All the seniors had a good game against Farson,” said Head Coach Brian Espenscheid. “We’re a pretty young team and we have some really talented freshmen that are doing a good job – the learning curve is always high at the beginning of the year. The girls bounded back against Cokeville and had a pretty good game – we got the wind back in our sails even though we lost. The kids had a good attitude and played hard.”

Farson

The Lady Pronghorn took control in the first quarter, scoring 12 points to 8 from Big Piney. Senior Sharianne Brower scored a layup and a jumper with seniors Rayne Wheeler and Hannah Runyan contributing 2 points apiece.

Rallying in the second quarter, the Big Piney offense doubled down and added 18 points to the scoreboard. A strengthened Lady Puncher defense held Farson to only 8 points.

Sophomore Micah Strong began the second quarter with a layup. Senior Shelby Guest snatched a steal, setting Runyan up to score inside the perimeter.

Wheeler and Brower both tossed in free throws, tying the game, 14-14.

Sophomore Chelsea Wright broke through the Lady Pronghorn defense and netted a close-range shot.

Defensive pressure by Guest forced a turnover and sophomore Sienna Whiterock made an inside shot. Strong rustled a steal and Whiterock scored again. Wheeler followed up with a pair of layups.  Brower rounded out scoring in the second quarter with a 2-pointer.

Big Piney found itself ahead, 26-16, when the halftime buzzer sounded.

Maintaining its momentum into the third quarter, the Lady Punchers outscored the Lady Pronghorn, 17-7.

Strong snapped up a steal, allowing Guest to toss in a jumper. Strong scored a close-range shot and Wheeler made a free throw.

A basket by Runyan widened Big Piney’s lead. Brower grabbed a steal and Wheeler tossed in a layup. Runyan added 2 more points to the scoreboard. Strong went on a 6-point run. Defensive pressure by Whiterock resulted a turnover at the end of the third quarter.

Big Piney entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 43-23 lead.

Brower and Strong both scored close-range shots to open the final quarter. Wheeler scored a jumper. Freshman Kodee Greene entered the fray and scored 4 points.

On defense, Guest and sophomore Kendra Willoughby forced a turnover and sophomore Jolynn Jones snatched a steal.

Sophomore Marisela Sambrano closed out scoring with a basket from the free-throw line.

Nine Lady Punchers contributed points to the scoreboard. Wheeler and Strong led the Lady Punchers in scoring against Farson with 12 points apiece. Brower scored 9 points and Runyan 8. Whiterock and Greene made 4 points each with 2 points apiece from Wright and Guest and a free throw by Sambrano.

The team heads to the Foothills Classic at Wind River and Wyoming Indian on Dec. 16-17 where Big Piney will play opponents in its conference.

“We’re going to get a lot better,” said Coach Espenscheid. “We have a lot of potential. I’m pretty excited about how we’re going to grow.”

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