Punchers make strong showing

Junior Lena Hatch goes up for a shot against Kemmerer in Big Piney on Jan. 12.

SUBLETTE COUNTY ­– The Puncher girls' basketball team continues to grow and prove that it is a competitive force to be reckoned with this season.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the girls pulled out their second season victory against Kemmerer, 47-34. The match was the first home victory the team achieved in several years, said head coach Brian Espenscheid.

“The team did a really good job against strong competition,” he added. “It was nice to get a couple wins against Kemmerer. Cassidy Espenscheid was our leading scorer and played really well. Jakobi Hibbert was stellar and relentless on defense. Ryker Goodman rebounded the heck out of the ball and stepped up in a huge way. We’re playing well together as a team and showing patience on offense.”

Thursday pitted the Punchers against cross-county rival Pinedale. Big Piney gave the Lady Wranglers a run for their money, playing a tight game that came down to the wire. Pinedale edged ahead with free throws in the final quarter to take the win, 48-43.

“I was super proud of the girls,” Coach Espenscheid said. “They played a really good game – a fun game where both teams played with class and respect. Lena Hatch and Ceci Sambrano both played really well and continue to get better as juniors. Sierra Keiter played a lot of minutes and did really well. Hannah Runyan is a good kid and stepped in and did what she was supposed to do.”

Kemmerer

Big Piney stormed the court in the first quarter and shot in an impressive 18 points while defense swarmed the Lady Rangers, holding Kemmerer to two points.

Espenscheid tossed in three 2-pointers and made both free throws in the first quarter. Sambrano added a 2-pointer and pair of free throws. Goodman shot in a 2-pointer and Hibbert made good on two free throws.

Kemmerer’s defense turned up the heat in the second quarter, slowing Big Piney’s momentum. Espenscheid and Hibbert kept the team on the scoreboard.

Big Piney finished the first half ahead by a significant margin, 22-10.

Kemmerer fought to regain the lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Punchers, 14-11. Big Piney answered back in the final quarter, shooting in 14 points and holding their opponent to 10. Espenscheid, Goodman, Hibbert, Keiter and Runyan each contributed to the fourth-quarter scoreboard.

Espenscheid pulled out 19 points against Kemmerer. Hibbert shot in nine points and Keiter six. Goodman added five points to the tally and Runyan and Hatch both scored two points.

Pinedale

The first quarter ended with Pinedale ahead by a single point, 15-14. Espenscheid tossed in eight points, including a pair of deep shots from outside the perimeter.

Defense dominated in the second quarter, keeping offense on their feet. Pinedale again managed to come out only one point ahead in scoring. Sambrano, Hatch and Espenscheid each scored before the halftime buzzer sounded.

The Lady Wranglers edged ahead in the third quarter, outscoring Big Piney, 10-7. The Punchers fought back in a neck-and-neck physical fourth quarter where both teams scored 15 points.

Espenscheid played one of the best offensive games in her career, tallying 25 points, including five 3-pointers. Goodman added seven points to the scorebook, shooting with 100 percent accuracy at the free-throw line.

Keiter scored four points and Sambrano, Hatch and Runyan each contributed two. Hibbert completed the count with a free throw.

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