WORLAND – The New Year opened for the boys’ basketball team at the Worland Winter Classic on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 8-9.
The 2A Punchers challenged 3A opponent Lyman first. Despite nearly closing the deficit in the second quarter, the Punchers fell behind in the third quarter and Lyman took the win, 65-49.
Early Saturday morning, Big Piney found redemption against cross-county rival Pinedale by trouncing the Wranglers, 75-28.
“I think in both games we learned some things as players and coaches that we need to improve upon,” said Head Coach Nate Strong. “The speed of the game against Lyman got to us a little and forced us to make bad decisions and without our normal depth, I thought we looked tired. I think we can use this to understand the intensity level we must practice with each day to be great.
“Against Pinedale, who is young but really talented, I thought we learned how to attack the hedge on ball screens. As the game went on, I thought we did a better job on that and hopefully in the future when we see the same defensive look we can be quicker on our attacks. Overall, I thought the boys handled themselves great.”
Setting an early lead, the Eagles outscored the Punchers, 14-4, during the first quarter. Junior Koy Walton and senior Carlos Munoz put Big Piney on the scoreboard.
Determined to close the gap, the Punchers battled back in the third quarter. Big Piney offense scored 17 points while defense held the Eagles to 10 points.
Carlos Munoz closed in on the Eagles with a 3-pointer, narrowing the Punchers’ deficit to nine points. Junior Ethan Whiterock followed up with a 2-pointer to close the gap to seven points. Carlos Munoz swept in with a 2-pointer and made two free throws to bring the Punchers to within six points of overtaking Lyman.
Whiterock followed up with a 3-pointer from deep in the court to tighten Lyman’s lead to three points at halftime, 24-21.
The Eagles took over again in the third quarter, slamming in 25 points with a barrage of 3-pointers. Big Piney managed 10 points, led by senior Kaden Raza with a pair of 2-pointers.
Big Piney refused to go down without a fight and outscored their opponents in the final quarter, 18-16. Carlos Munoz played one of his best quarters of the season, tossing in 12 points, including two 3-pointers.
Carlos Munoz led scoring against Lyman at 23 points. Whiterock shot in 11 points with junior Koy Walton and Raza each adding six to the scorebook. Senior Liam Hughes rounded the tally out with a 2-pointer and junior Seth Stountenburg scored a free throw.
A 3-pointer by Carlos Munoz and a pair of 2-pointers from Stoutenburg set the Punchers’ pace early in the first quarter. Big Piney never looked back and notched up 22 points versus six from Pinedale before the quarter ended.
Hughes, Whiterock and Walton kept the defensive heat on, racking up one steal after another.
Big Piney continued to pummel away against the Wranglers in the second quarter. Whiterock led in scoring with several shots taken outside the perimeter.
Pulling out all the stops in the third quarter, Big Piney showed no mercy and shot in more than double the points scored by their rival. Whiterock kept his accuracy up at 3-pointers and Stoutenburg pulled off a 6-point streak.
Big Piney outscored the Wranglers, 15-10, in the final quarter. Following a 2-pointer by junior Jaspur Brower, Stoutenburg scored a pair of 2-pointers, drawing a foul on the second and making good on a free throw.
The Punchers ended the match with a nice point spread shared by nine players. Whiterock’s outside shots put him at 22 points. Stoutenburg played his best offensive game of the season, scoring 15 points. Carlos Munoz also hit the double digits at 14 points.
Raza, Hughes and Walton all scored six points. Brower, sophomore Jovany Munoz and junior Caleb Strong each rounded the tally out with two points.