Puncher boys battle Greybull, Kemmerer at Regionals

Rochelle Whiterock photo Senior Jovany Munoz goes up for a shot against Kemmerer at the 2A West Regional Tournament on Feb. 24. Also pictured is sophomore Bill Hibbert.

RIVERTON – The Big Piney Punchers boys’ basketball team wrapped up the 2022-2023 winter season at the 2A West Regional Tournament in Riverton on Feb. 23-25.

The Punchers came up short against Greybull, 60-27, in the opening game on Thursday.

Rallying on Friday, Big Piney battled Kemmerer in a game that came down to the wire. The Punchers won the first quarter, 16-11. Kemmerer edged up by a single point, 30-29, at halftime.

Big Piney made Kemmerer fight for each point in a close second half. The Rangers ultimately pulled out the win, 68-61.

While the Punchers were unable to secure a spot at State, the team deserves to take pride in a successful season. Big Piney posted nine wins during the regular season, including four conference victories.

The Punchers demonstrated talent, tenacity, speed and class week in and week out.

“I’m really proud of the boys and their attitude and effort this year,” said Head Coach Nate Strong. “They are a fun group to work with and I can't wait to get back on the court again. Now, on to the ‘off’ season!”

Season highlights

The Punchers kicked off the regular season with a home-court victory against conference rival, Kemmerer. Big Piney edged ahead in the final seconds of regulation to secure the win by a single point, 59-58.

Big Piney trounced conference opponent St. Stephens not once, but twice. On Jan. 20, the Punchers defeated St. Stephens at an away game, 90-78. Facing off against the team for a second time at home on Feb. 10, Big Piney handily won, 90-68.

The Punchers’ team chemistry gelled on Feb. 17 when the team routed Kemmerer, 73-58, on the road.

Big Piney also scored non-conference wins against Farson-Eden, Rich County, Utah, and Wind River.

The Punchers tallied 1,231 points over the course of the season. Senior Jovany Munoz led with 386 points, averaging 19.3 points per game. Junior Reuben Stoutenburg netted 360 season points – 18 per game.

Bill Hibbert contributed 219 points, Ashton Bennett 86, Cole Walton 64, Cael Espenscheid 63 and sophomore Kelby Staley 48.

Hibbert and Munoz excelled at rebounds, with Hibbert tallying 132 and Munoz 125. Stoutenburg made 90 rebounds, Espenscheid 63, Staley 50, Bennett 47 and Walton 24.

The Punchers shared the ball well, totaling 204 assists for the season. On defense, Big Piney made 176 steals and 17 blocks.