Piper loses late at Lansing

Senior guard Evelyn Vazquez drove for a layup in the third quarter of Piper’s 5A substate final against Lansing Friday nght. Lansing won the game 35-32. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

The Piper Lady Pirates narrowly missed a return trip to the KSHSAA state basketball tournament, with a late, close 35-32 loss at Lansing in the 5A substate final on Friday evening.

Piper held a 5-point lead with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but wasn’t able to hold on as the Lady Lions surged past in the closing minutes. The Lady Pirates squandered a couple of late game-sealing opportunities at the free throw line. Lansing took advantage with a well-executed inbounds play under its own basket and took the lead for good with less than 5 seconds remaining.

The score was tied at 19 at the half, but Piper built a 5-point advantage in the third quarter by limiting Lansing to only 2 points with no made baskets. Lansing frustrated the Lady Pirates’ offense throughout the game by packing five defenders around the lane, denying all but a few penetration drives.

Senior guard Evelyn Vazquez led the Lady Pirates with 12 points. She was most successful on offense when the team used ball movement to stretch the Lansing defense to create openings. Senior forward Jennifer Guilbeaux added 10 points, and freshman guard Lauren Marron scored 5.

The 2021 tournament was the team’s first since being reclassified to 5A. Piper  defeated Basehor-Linwood 51-42 on Tuesday to advance to the substate final.

Piper finishes the season with a 13-6 overall record. The team won the Frontier League championship, its sixth league championship in a row.

Senior Jennifer Guilbeaux put back an offensive rebound. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Sophomore guard Ryann Clark drove to the basket. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Senior guard Dawnyale Bruce drove to the basket. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

The Piper cheerleaders performed during a break in the action. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Freshman guard Lauren Marron put up a short range shot but was denied by Lansing junior Mackenzie Manth. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Head coach Shane Stout talked strategy with his team during a timeout in the fourth quarter. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Jennifer Guilbeaux set up the backcourt defense late in the fourth quarter. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Marron pushed the ball up the court past a Lansing defender. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Vazquez looked for a gap in the Lansing defense. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

 

Clark took a baseline jump shot. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

Lady Cyclones exit substate after winning season

Sophomore guard Mercedes Dominguez launched a three-point shot from the corner in the first half of Bishop Ward’s substate tournament match against Wellsville. Wellsville won the game 37-35. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

A winning season came to a disappointingly early end for the Bishop Ward Lady Cyclones on Monday evening. After finishing the regular season 11-2, they lost their opening substate match to the Wellsville Lady Eagles, 37-35.

The 2020-2021 basketball season came with many challenges, and Ward has been able to field only six players on the girls team. Many families opted not to participate this year due to the pandemic. Head coach Dominique Washington and assistant coach Holland Craise were faced with integrating two freshmen and an inexperienced sophomore into the core of the team. In response, they developed a detailed plan for keeping every player in the game every time.

The season started in mid-December, but went on hiatus until Feb. 2 due to virus restrictions. With such a long layoff, the coaches included an hour of 3-on-3 scrimmage at the end of each practice to keep the players in condition.

Once the season resumed in February, in-game management was key, and the coaches “micro-managed” the players by stepping up their verbal instructions on the court. With three games per week, the players needed to stay as fresh as possible mentally and physically. The Lady Cyclones rolled through the compressed schedule with only two losses.

Monday night’s substate game was held at Kansas City Christian School in Prairie Village, since Bishop Ward’s traditional home field at KCKCC is unavailable due to Covid restrictions. A masked crowd of about 150 fans was on hand to watch the contest.

Ward opened with the advantage, getting an early three-pointer from forward Perla Frayre-Delgado and ending the first quarter with an 8-7 lead. Strong inside rebounding from forward Tina Rosales limited the Lady Eagles’ chances.

Foul trouble caught up with the Lady Cyclones in the second quarter. With the short bench, Washington had little opportunity to rotate out guards Nieves Vazquez and Vanesa Otero as they picked up three fouls each in the first half. Wellsville gained some offensive momentum in the second quarter, and went to the break with an 18-17 lead.

In the third quarter, the game remained in reach, but cold shooting and ball-handling turnovers from the Ward offense short-circuited each comeback attempt. With only 4 points in the quarter for Ward, Wellsville went to the final quarter with a 28-21 advantage.

Ward threw its effort into a fourth quarter comeback, but came up just short. Sharpshooter Mercedes Dominguez hit two 3-pointers from the right corner, and Vazquez took two steals for breakaways. With two minutes remaining, Rosales came down hard on her ankle, sending her to the bench. Wellsville hit just enough timely shots to stay ahead until a turnover closed off Ward’s bid for a final shot to win or tie in the closing seconds.

Dominguez led the team with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Washington praised her shooting after the game, noting, “It’s kind of crazy to see teams ever give her the green light because she’s become very confident in her shot.” Delgado dropped in 9 points, including 4-of-5 at the free throw line.

The Lady Cyclones earned second in the Crossroads Conference this year behind Barstow. They’ll open next year in the new Kaw Valley Conference, a group of six private and religious schools in Kansas City and Topeka.

The Lady Cyclones will lose key seniors Otero and Frayre-Delgado, and they will have some rebuilding to do. Washington is optimistic that some players who didn’t participate this year will be back next seasons to join returning all-conference players Rosales, Dominguez and Vazquez.

Senior forward Perla Frayre-Delgado drove through the block of Wellsville’s Alexis McDaniel. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Freshman guard Nieves Vazquez scored on a breakaway layup. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Junior forward Tina Rosales made a move against the interior defense of the Lady Eagles. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Head coach Dominique Washington pulled the team together in a timeout in the fourth quarter. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior guard Vanesa Otero brought the ball up the court. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Freshman guard Mercedes Dominguez was stymied by the Wellsville defense on a drive inside. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Senior forward Perla Frayre-Delgado put up a shot in the lane. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)
Frayre-Delgado wiped away a tear as she left the court for the final time as a Lady Cyclone. (Photo copyright 2021 by Brian Turrel)

Spring sports to start March 1 in KCK high schools

High school spring sports will start March 1 in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools district.

The Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education approved a spring sports schedule at a four-hour meeting Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Tammie Romstad, the district’s athletics director, said at the 5 p.m. school board meeting that students have not competed in spring sports since May 2019. They lost last year’s season because of cancellations to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

According to Romstad, all the surrounding schools in Wyandotte and Johnson counties will participate in the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s spring sports.

Romstad said the district will continue to follow Unified Government Health Department sports recommendations for high school students. The district plans to cohort athletes, do health screenings, sign-in sheets for tracing, and take temperatures every day, she said.

No spectators will be allowed at games, according to Romstad. Also, everyone, participants and officials, will wear a mask, she said.

Conditioning for spring sports is scheduled to begin Feb. 15, Romstad said. They will follow the Health Department and district’s protocols, and forms must be signed.

Board vice president Wanda Brownlee Paige said she wanted to make sure that the district supports girls’ and boys’ teams equally.

In answer to a question from board member Janey Humphries about whether the Health Department has issued guidelines for spring sports, Romstad said they have not issued any new guidelines since earlier, when the district approved wrestling. The guidelines include wearing masks and restricting crowds. The last sports guidelines from the Health Department were posted on Nov. 13.

Dr. Valdenia Winn, a board member, asked whether students had to be in good academic standing in order to train and play in competitions.

Romstad said the district eligibility policies are in effect now, with the same rules about maintaining grades. The KSHSAA does not let students play if they don’t pass. Under the district eligibility policy, the first week after an F, a student won’t get to play but will be able to practice, and the second week, the student is restricted if the F isn’t raised, she said.

The high school policy passed unanimously, with Paige stating that she wishes the district would check on student athletes’ grades all the time, and not wait for the progress report, in order to keep everybody’s grades up.

The school board also approved intramural competition for middle school spring sports. According to Romstad, the sports include track and field, and boys and girls soccer.

Similar health recommendations will be followed for middle school as for the high schools, with no spectators allowed.

The middle school intramural programs begin April 19, and this will be an opportunity for students in track and field or soccer to learn skills and play, she said.

The students will practice and play within their own schools, with no outside school competition, she said. This fits the needs of the schools better, Romstad said.

With the hybrid plans of attending school two days a week in April, it will be really hard for middle school students to participate in the KSHSAA programs, since they would miss a lot of practices and not be prepared for contests, she said. Some schools may have a lot of participation, while others may have a minimal amount, she said. This plan will allow coaches to teach skills, she said.

Dr. Alicia Miguel, acting superintendent, said the Health Department has relaxed school guidelines a little, allowing for more changing of classes.

The school district also did not play sports last fall, and the fall season sports were moved to this month. A shortened fall sports season began on Feb. 1 in the KCK schools, with high school teams able to play other high school teams in the district.