Piper girls lose first to top-ranked Aquinas

Junior Evelyn Vazquez weaved through Aquinas defenders to the goal. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
 

by Brian Turrel

The Piper Lady Pirates came within seconds of defeating the top-ranked team in the 5A division after staging a furious fourth quarter comeback.

They fell just short when the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints collected a foul and two points for a 35-34 win on Friday night in Piper.

Previously undefeated Piper wasn’t in its usual rhythm. The Saints’ size, speed, and accurate passing put Piper off its usual pressing and backcourt trapping defense and took away its transition offense.

The Saints took advantage on the boards as well, dominated by Beatrice Culliton and Charlotte O’Keefe. Piper gradually fell behind, racking up an 8-point deficit and going into the half down 29-21.

The third quarter was a defensive grind, with both teams struggling to score for minutes on end. Ayreona Carter scored all 7 of Piper’s points in the quarter to keep pace with the Saints.

In the fourth quarter, junior guard Evelyn Vazquez took control of the game. Her fast-paced defense shifted up to frenetic, and she started to drive the ball into the teeth of the Aquinas defense, earning baskets and trips to the line.

Vazquez scored 11 of Piper’s 13 points in the final quarter, and she put the Lady Pirates into the lead at 34-33 with 28 seconds remaining. The Piper defense nearly held out, forcing the Saints to inbound the ball four times and running down the clock.

With 2.8 seconds remaining, the Saints got the foul call they needed and converted both free throws. Piper’s last mad dash down the court ended with a shot off the rim.

The loss drops the Lady Pirates to 6-1, but they get no break. They play again on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. against the second-ranked team in the 5A division, McPherson High School. The Lady Bullpups are undefeated and coming off a Friday night victory over Dodge City.

Ayreona Carter tried to get a shot over Beatrice Culliton but was fouled. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Evelyn Vazquez put up a short jumper. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Piper cheerleaders performed stunts during a break in the action. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Piper head coach Shane Stout got his team prepared in a late game free throw situation. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior Ayreona Carter was fouled on her shot falling away from the basket. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior Dawnyale Bruce saw her shot blocked by Aquinas’s Beatrice Culliton. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Junior Jennifer Guilbeaux looked to drive inside against the Aquinas defense. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior Grace Banes looked for an outlet on the left side. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior Riley Porter drove into the lane. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior Emma Serrano looked for an opening along the baseline. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

Pirates win overtime thriller over Aquinas

Junior Dylin Taylor-Cantu made the basket and was fouled on a drive to the basket in Piper’s overtime win against St. Thomas Aquinas. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
 

by Brian Turrel

The Piper Pirates rallied for a thrilling 69-65 overtime win against the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints on Friday night in Piper.

The packed fieldhouse was hot and noisy with the energy of the contest between the two teams, ranked fifth and sixth in the KC metro area.

The undefeated Pirates looked overmatched in the early going. The Saints’ zone defense took away dribble penetration from Tamar Bates. Poor Piper shooting and Aquinas’s control of the boards gave Aquinas a 14-4 first quarter lead.

Piper made some headway in the second quarter, using Christian Arndt and Gabe Eskina near the free throw line to create some leverage in the middle of the zone.

Dylin Taylor-Cantu found some driving room and scored 7 in the quarter, getting Piper within 5 at the half.

Piper kept Aquinas within striking distance through the third and fourth quarters, but the Saints still led by 5 with two minutes remaining in regulation.

The intensity of the Piper defense picked up, led by Jaron Briggs. Briggs hit the floor twice to contest loose balls, and he gave the Saints’ ball-handlers not an inch of uncontested space.

With less than a minute remaining, Taylor-Cantu scored and converted the and-one free throw for a three-point play, and Eskina hit two free throws to tie the game. Both teams had late chances to win in regulation, but couldn’t make the shot.

In overtime, Taylor-Cantu created another three-point play on a drive to the basket, and Shelley and Briggs hit pairs of free throws to put the game away.

Taylor-Cantu led Piper with 17 points for the game, with Briggs scoring 14. Bates and Shelley added 13 each, including three 3-pointers from Shelley.

Piper is at the center of Kansas City high school hoops this weekend. The Piper-Aquinas showdown was broadcast on Midco Sports Network as their game of the week.

The action continues Saturday when Piper plays host to the 810 Varsity Sunflower Showcase, a day-long series of games from teams around the region. Piper concludes the showcase tonight when the Pirates play McPherson.

Junior Tamar Bates put up a contested jump shot in the lane. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Taylor-Cantu was encouraged by his teammates as he headed to the line after being fouled on a late fourth-quarter drive. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Sophomore Jaron Briggs looked to put a shot over the Aquinas defense. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Senior Gabe Eskina calmly hit two free throws to tie the game in the fourth quarter. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
The Piper cheerleaders reacted to the comeback win. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Jaron Briggs, lower right, wrestled for a loose ball on the court. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
The Piper dance team performed at halftime. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Piper guidance counselor Polly Vader was congratulated after receiving a School Spirit award presented by Varsity Brands. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Freshman Lance Bassett grabbed an offensive rebound. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

High-flying Harmon Hawks defeat Turner

Harmon junior Lonell Lane threw down a dunk in the first half of Harmon’s win over Turner. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)
 

by Brian Turrel

The Harmon Hawks boys’ basketball team continued their early-season unbeaten run, picking up their fifth victory of the year at Turner, 79-32 over the Golden Bears.

Harmon’s above-the-rim offense has overpowered most of their opponents this season. Turner hung tough through the opening period, with opportunistic defense and timely three-pointers from Arnaldo Silvestre and Cedric Bates to keep the margin close at 16-10.

In the second period, Hawks star Lonell Lane came off the bench and brought a lot of defensive intensity with him. The pace of play picked up, and the speed of the Hawks gave them a clear advantage. Lane was able to get inside the Bears’ defense, and scored 14 of the Hawks’ 22 points in the second quarter.

The Hawks continued their dominant run in the third quarter, holding the Bears to just 4 points. Mike Carson was a strong presence in the paint and able to challenge most of Turner’s inside moves.

The fourth quarter was an up-and-down race. Despite the margin, both teams kept up their intensity through the final buzzer.

Lane led the Hawks with 27 points in the game. Terrence Johnson and Mike Carson both added 13. Jadin Kimbrel was the high scorer for the Golden Bears with 8 points, and Cedric Bates dropped in 7.

Harmon heads to the holiday break with a 5-0 record. They’ll play a KCAL league game against Atchison on Jan. 10. Turner is still looking for its first win of the young season. The Bears will open 2020 with a United Kansas Conference home game against Louisburg on Jan. 7.

Harmon senior Terrence Johnson tried to score over the defense of Turner sophomore Cedric Bates. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Harmon senior Walzel Evans made a layup. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Turner senior Isaiah Belcher drove in for a floater. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Walzel Evans took a fast break for a dunk. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Turner cheerleaders practiced their stunts before the game. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Turner senior Nick Gordon saved the ball and bounced it off a Harmon player to keep possession. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Isaiah Belcher dived to save a ball from going out of bounds. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Turner Goldenettes dance team performed a Christmas-themed routine at halftime. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Turner senior Jalen Nelson tried to drive the ball around Harmon junior Lonell Lane. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Harmon junior Mike Carson tipped in a ball at the rim. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Cedric Bates pulled down a defensive rebound. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Harmon freshman Jason Rodriguez looked to drive along the baseline. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Turner pep band entertained the crowd before the game. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

 

Cedric Bates took a short jump shot in the lane. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)