PAVILLION – A rollercoaster ride of a weekend opened for the Big Piney High School Puncher boys’ basketball team with a single-point victory over 2A Conference rival St. Stephens, 67-66, at the Foothills Classic Tournament on Friday, Dec. 16.
On the second day of the tournament, hosted by Wind River and Wyoming Indian high schools, the Punchers again found themselves in a contest that came down to the wire as they played the 2A Wright Panthers.
Wright held the lead through the first three quarters. The Punchers closed the gap in the fourth quarter and briefly overtook the Panthers. Wright managed to score with seconds to spare in regulation for a 59-56 win.
On Saturday afternoon, Big Piney fell to the 2A Greybull Buffaloes, 62-45.
Big Piney won the first quarter, 20-17. Senior Jovany Munoz netted 13 points for the Punchers in the opening eight minutes, including two outside shots.
Junior Reuben Stoutenburg sunk a 3-pointer. Sophomore Bill Hibbert broke through the perimeter to sink a layup.
Widening its lead in the second quarter, Big Piney outscored St. Stephens, 16-11. Stoutenburg, Munoz, Hibbert and sophomore Ashton Bennett each contributed points. Sophomore Cole Walton entered the fray and tossed in a deep 3-pointer.
Both teams scored 19 points in the third quarter. Hibbert went on a 4-point run. Munoz made a layup and Hibbert scored again from inside.
Defensive pressure by Stoutenburg and sophomore Cael Espenscheid resulted in two turnovers. Espenscheid followed up with a free throw.
Hibbert sunk a pair of outside shots and a layup. Stoutenburg scored a jumper.
The Punchers led, 56-47, at the end of the third quarter.
St. Stephens whittled away at Big Piney’s lead in the fourth quarter, pulling ahead in the final minute of regulation. Hibbert netted a free throw, tying the game.
Bennett stepped up to the charity stripe with seconds to spare and scored the crucial point to secure Big Piney’s win.
Munoz and Hibbert led Big Piney in scoring against St. Stephens with 22 points apiece. Stoutenburg posted 11 points and Bennett 5 with 3 each from Walton and Espenscheid.
Wright managed to outpace Big Piney by 2 points, 16-14, in the first quarter.
Bennett scored an outside shot to tie the game, 12-12. A free throw by Stoutenburg placed Big Piney in the lead. Wright scored an inside shot. Hibbert made a free throw to tie the game, 14-14, before Wright scored a jumper.
Munoz snatched a steal as the second quarter began. Hibbert forced a turnover and converted an and-1. Wright edged ahead until Munoz sank a layup and a 3-pointer to close the gap at 22 points.
Bennett and Munoz kept the game neck-and-neck from the free-throw line. A close-range shot from Munoz tied the game at 27 points.
The Panthers went on an 8-point run to regain the initiative, 35-27, by halftime.
Wright maintained the lead through the third quarter to remain ahead, 49-42, as the fourth quarter commenced.
Sophomore Kelby Staley netted a layup. Munoz grabbed a steal, setting Stoutenburg up to toss in a 3-pointer. Defensive pressure by sophomore Ben Ferguson led to a turnover. Stoutenburg converted an and-1 and Hibbert sank an outside shot to narrow Wright’s lead to a single point.
Stoutenburg broke through Wright’s perimeter to score and Big Piney pulled ahead, 54-53. The Panthers netted a close-range shot. Hibbert tossed in a pair of free throws and Big Piney again found itself in the lead, 56-55.
Wright managed to score 4 points in the remaining seconds to take the win.
Stoutenburg led the Punchers in scoring against Wright, netting 17 points. Munoz scored 16 points, Hibbert 12, Bennett 6, Espenscheid 3 and Staley 2.
The Buffaloes outscored the Punchers, 15-9, in the first quarter.
Stoutenburg rustled a steal early in the second quarter. Hibbert scored an inside shot and Stoutenburg sunk an outside shot, closing the gap to 3 points. A layup by Stoutenburg put Big Piney within 1 point of overtaking Greybull.
The Buffaloes then went on a 9-point run to establish a 26-16 lead at halftime.
Greybull controlled the third quarter offensively, netting 21 points to 10 from Big Piney. The Punchers outscored Greybull in the fourth quarter, although they came up short of bridging the gap.
Stoutenburg led Big Piney in scoring with 21 points. Munoz netted 9 points, Hibbert 7, Bennett 5 and Espenscheid 3.
The Punchers return to competition after the holiday break with the East-West Classic Tournament in Rawlins.