BRIDGER VALLEY – The 2022-2023 Big Piney High School Puncher boys’ basketball season officially kicked off with three non-conference games at the Bridger Valley Tournament hosted by Mountain View and Lyman on Dec. 8-10.
On Thursday, Big Piney fell to 3A opponent, Mountain View, in a tightly-fought game. The Punchers kept close on Mountain View’s heels through the first and second quarters and managed to overtake the Buffaloes in the third quarter.
Mountain View charged ahead in the fourth quarter to take the win, 61-55.
Squaring off against 1A Farson on Friday, the Punchers scored their first victory of the season, soundly defeating the Pronghorn, 60-55.
Saturday featured another close game with Big Piney falling to the 1A Cokeville
“It was a fun way to start playing,” said Head Coach Nate Strong. “I thought the boys played really hard, which is a huge ingredient in having successful teams. We are a pretty young team and I feel we will get better through having more experience. Our older boys – Jovany Munoz and Reuben Stoutenburg – have shown great leadership. Most of the team had never played major varsity minutes yet all the kids really stepped in and did well.”
The Mountain View Buffaloes led by only 3 points, 18-15, at the end of a physical first quarter.
Junior Reuben Stoutenburg snatched a steal and scored on a fastbreak. Senior Jovany Munoz made two baskets from the charity stripe.
Defensive pressure by Stoutenburg and sophomore Kelby Staley resulted in a turnover. Stoutenburg scored a jumper and a layup. Munoz broke through Mountain View’s perimeter to toss in a layup.
Sophomore Bill Hibbert netted a deep 3-pointer and Munoz sunk a close-range shot.
Mountain View outscored Big Piney, 16-12, in the second quarter.
Sophomore Ashton Bennett scored an inside shot to tie the game, 26-26, before Mountain View pulled ahead, 34-27, at halftime.
The Punchers shifted into high gear in the third quarter with the Big Piney offense scoring 18 points and a determined Puncher defense holding Mountain View to 8 points.
Stoutenburg went on an 8-point run, including two 3-pointers. Hibbert netted a layup and a jumper to tie the game, 39-39.
A close-range shot from Munoz pulled the Punchers into the lead, 41-40. Munoz and Hibbert both scored 2-pointers and Big Piney found itself ahead, 45-42, at the end of the third quarter.
Mountain View turned the tables in the fourth quarter, overtaking Big Piney by 6 points for the win.
Munoz led the Punchers in scoring against the Buffaloes with 24 points. Stoutenburg scored 18 points, Hibbert 9 and Bennett 4.
Big Piney dominated the first quarter, outscoring the Pronghorn, 16-6.
Munoz began the first quarter with a 3-pointer. Hibbert went on a 4-point run and sophomore Cole Walton netted an outside shot.
Hibbert scored a jumper. Defensive pressure by Stoutenburg and Munoz forced a turnover. Munoz scored twice from the free-throw line. Stoutenburg netted a layup.
Farson almost closed the gap in the second quarter.
Stoutenburg scored a deep 3-pointer. Bennett and Stoutenburg both drew fouls and scored points from the charity stripe.
Munoz netted a jumper and Hibbert made two free throws. Munoz went on a 5-point run.
The Punchers led, 31-23, at halftime.
The third quarter came down to the wire, with Big Piney outscoring the Pronghorn by a single point. Munoz tossed in a deep 3-pointer. Stoutenburg scored a pair of layups.
Hibbert scored 4 points. Stoutenburg tossed in a close-range shot. Hibbert broke through Farson’s perimeter to score and Stoutenburg made two baskets from the free throw line.
Big Piney entered the fourth quarter ahead, 48-39.
Farson outscored Big Piney in the final quarter, although the significant lead Big Piney established in the first half carried the Punchers to victory.
Munoz led scoring with 22 points against Farson. Hibbert scored 19 points, Stoutenburg 15, Walton 3 and Bennett a free throw.
“I’m excited to get back in the gym and try and build off what we did this weekend by improving our defensive fundamentals and offensive execution,” said Coach Strong.