Lady Punchers turn up heat at Regionals

Rochelle White photograph Head Coach Brian Espenscheid, center, goes through plays with the Big Piney Lady Punchers during the Feb. 25 game against Shoshoni at the 2A West Regional Tournament in Riverton.

RIVERTON – The Big Piney High School Lady Punchers basketball team gave each of its opponents a run for their money in three exciting games at the 2A West Regional Tournament in Riverton on Feb. 23-25.

While Big Piney was unable to secure a spot at State, the Punchers brought their A game to Riverton and refused to yield the court without a serious fight.

Opening Regionals with a win, the Lady Punchers knocked out Wind River, 47-42, on Thursday.

“It fantastic weekend,” said Head Coach Brian Espenscheid. “The kids played great against Wind River and had the best game of the year. The energy was really good.”

Advancing to the semifinals, Big Piney squared off against Wyoming Indian High School, the No. 1 seed in the 2A Southwest Quadrant, on Friday.

The Lady Punchers battled Wyoming Indian point-for-point through four close quarters, resulting in a 36-36 draw at the end of regulation.

The game went into double overtime after a 46-46 stalemate in the first overtime period. Wyoming Indian managed to edge ahead in second overtime by several possessions for the win, 55-48.

“The odds were stacked against us against Wyoming Indian, but the girls did a great job,” said Coach Espenscheid. “That was just a classic game and maybe as fun a game as I’ve ever been part of. I believe that’s one of the best games Big Piney girls have ever played. Wyoming Indian has been the best 2A girls’ program over the past decades. Playing them in their home gym, in a packed gym – 95 percent of the fans were rooting for Wyoming Indian – was more exciting than any state game. Just for us to be in that game and play that well, it was just beautiful. We were so proud of the girls and the way they stepped up. We couldn’t have had a better ending to the season.”

The Lady Punchers hit the ground running against Shoshoni bright and early Saturday morning despite the epic double-overtime duel against Wyoming Indian the previous evening.

Big Piney took control of the court in the second quarter and retained the initiative through the third quarter and most of the fourth. With 3 minutes remaining in regulation, Shoshoni edged ahead for the win, 49-42.

Wind River

Wind River established a 5-point lead in the first quarter, 11-6. Big Piney senior Sharianne Brower converted an and-1 and senior Rayne Wheeler scored on a fast break.

Chipping away at Wind River in the second quarter, Big Piney came within a single possession of overtaking their rival by halftime.

Freshman Lizzy Brandt snagged a steal. Brower and freshman Brylie Bailey both scored from inside the perimeter.

Sophomore Sienna Whiterock forced a turnover. Bailey sunk a layup and netted two close-range shots.

Joining the fray, freshman Kodee Greene tossed in a jumper, tying the game, 18-18.

Brower swished a deep 3-pointer to place Big Piney ahead, 21-20.

Wind River scored again before the halftime buzzer sounded to retake the lead by a single point, 22-21.

Turning the tables in the third quarter, the Lady Punchers outscored Wind River, 15-7.

Strong kicked off the second half with a layup. Wheeler snatched a steal, setting senior Shelby Guest up to score a jumper. Brower grabbed a pair of steals and netted a layup.

Strong tossed in a close-range shot and Wheeler made two free throws. Brower landed an outside shot and Strong scored on a fast break.

Big Piney led, 36-29, as the fourth quarter commenced.

The Lady Punchers shut down each attempt by Wind River to close the deficit in the final quarter and went on to secure the win, 47-42.

Bailey led Big Piney in scoring against Wind River with 14 points. Brower tallied 13 points, Strong 10, Wheeler 4 with 2 apiece by senior Hannah Runyan, Greene and Guest.

Wyoming Indian

Big Piney won a physical first quarter, 6-5.

Runyan tossed in a jumper. Guest nabbed a steal. Strong and Wheeler both found openings in the perimeter to score. Defensive pressure by Whiterock led to a turnover.

Wyoming Indian took the lead early in the second quarter. A layup by Strong tied the game, 12-12. Brandt rustled a steal and Runyan blocked a shot before Wyoming Indian regained the initiative, 15-12, at halftime.

Guest scored the first 4 points in the third quarter. Bailey, Guest and Brandt each captured steals. A jumper by Runyan gave Big Piney the advantage, 18-17.

Big Piney found itself ahead, 26-24, at the end of the third quarter.

Wyoming Indian overtook Big Piney by a possession early in the fourth quarter. Brower netted a 3-pointer, tying the game at 32 points. Brower tied the game again at 36 points. Strong shut down Wyoming Indian’s last two possessions in the fourth quarter with steals.

Regulation ended in a 36-36 stalemate.

Both teams netted 10 points to tie the game, 46-46, in the first overtime period. Strong tossed in two close-range shots and went 4-for-4 at the charity stripe before Wyoming Indian won in double overtime.

Strong scored a season-high of 22 points against Wyoming Indian. Wheeler netted 7 points, Runyan 6, Brower 5, Guest 4, Bailey 3 and Greene a free throw.


Shoshoni outpaced Big Piney by a single possession, 15-12, in the first quarter. Brandt briefly tied the game at 10 points and Whiterock scored a buzzer-beating jumper.

As the second quarter opened, Shoshoni widened its lead to 6 points. Runyan, Strong and Wheeler answered back, tying the game at 20 points.

The Lady Punchers dominated the scoreboard, 28-25, at halftime.

Hammering away at Shoshoni through the third quarter, the Lady Punchers held onto the lead, 36-32.

Big Piney controlled the scoreboard until the final 3 minutes of regulation when Shoshoni pulled ahead.

Eight Lady Punchers contributed to the scoreboard against Shoshoni. Brower netted 10 points, Wheeler 8, Strong and Green 6 each, Runyan 5, Brandt 3 and Whiterock and Guest 2 apiece.