Over two hundred wrestlers from Kansas and Iowa competed in the Bobcat Classic Wrestling Tournament on Friday and Saturday, including teams from Bonner Springs, Piper and Turner.
Piper’s Branden Martin won the championship in the 182-pound weight class, while classmates La’James White and Anthony Ferguson won second in the 160- and 170-pound classes. Martin remains undefeated this season with 17 wins and is the top-ranked wrestler in his class in the 4A division.
Cassius Vanderpool of Bonner Springs took third in the 126-pound class, and Trevor Andrew took fourth in the 106-pound class.
Bonner Springs took sixth in the team competition. Piper placed eighth and Turner 15th out of 23 teams.
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.
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.