Piper girls to compete in state basketball semifinals Friday

The Piper High School girls basketball team advanced to the state semifinals with a 77-70 victory over Coffeyville March 12. Here they pose with a trophy following the substate victory. (Piper file photo)

by Mary Rupert

The Piper High School girls basketball team made the final four, advancing to the state semifinals with a 77-70 victory March 12 over Coffeyville.

The Lady Pirates advanced to the semifinal game, which will be at 6:30 p.m. March 14 in Salina, Kan., vs. No. 1 seed, Wamego. Both teams have won at least 20 games this season.

Doug Key, Piper athletic director, said Wamego has a 23-0 record this season with a 39-game winning streak. Piper this year is 20-3.

Key noted that Wednesday night’s victory over Coffeyville was probably the most points scored all year by the Lady Pirates.

He said Piper players who led in Wednesday’s scoring included Haley White, Megan Woolley and Jessica Wayne.

“Everybody that played really contributed last night,” he said. “It was a great team victory.”

In other high school basketball action, Washington High School lost 73-47 to Highland Park on Wednesday in Class 5A boys competition.

Sumner Academy (10-12) takes on McPherson (20-1) in Class 4A boys basketball competition at 6:30 p.m. March 13.

Newton eyes ‘worst to first’ KCKCC cage scenario for 2014-2015

by Alan Hoskins

From worst to first? “I don’t think that’s unrealistic depending on how recruiting finishes up,” said Kansas City Kansas Community College first year men’s basketball coach Kelley Newton.

“I think the future is bright. I love the foundation we’ve laid, the direction the program is going and see us just getting better and better and better,” Newton said.

While a 7-25 overall record and winless Jayhawk Division II season was not what Newton had envisioned when he was named head coach July 8, 2013, the record belies the improvement made by the Blue Devils by season’s end.

Although down to just seven healthy players the last 11 games due to injuries and suspensions for team policy violations, the Blue Devils took four of the last five regular season games right to the wire – losing two by one point and two by two points – before avenging two earlier losses with a 69-57 upset win at Johnson County in the first round of the Region VI playoffs.

The big finish came without a sophomore on the squad – or a player taller than 6-foot, 4 inches. Lucas Smith, a 6-3 forward from Omaha, led the regular season in both scoring (11.0) and rebounding (7.4) although 6-4 Marcus Allen, a Sumner Academy grad who joined the team at the semester break, had the best average of 12.4 points in 15 games along with 5.3 rebounds.

Clay Young, a 6-4 forward from Lansing, was second in scoring (10.0) and rebounding (5.6) while 5-8 point guard Anthony Ridley of Hogan Prep led in assists (4.4) while averaging 8.9 points and 2.9 rebounds.

Stephen Leimbach of St. James Academy led in 3-point goals with 70 while averaging 8.4 points; guard Nate Collins of Pembroke Hill was second in assists with 2.7 and averaged 3.8 points; and Collin Adney of Oklahoma City averaged 4.2 points.

“Throughout the course of the season, I think we grew up and when you grow up you get better,” Kelley said. “I think Clay Young really matured and became a better player and Anthony Ridley became a better basketball player just to name a couple.”

But the Blue Devils were without their one returning starter from a year ago, guard Antonio Winn who suffered a season-ending leg injury in the second game of the season, and lost a 21.8-point guard in Brandon Ward to academics at the semester break.

The Blue Devils also played a gargantuan road schedule with 12 of their first 15 games on the road against top notch opponents.

“We never make excuses,” Newton said. “I never allow a team to make excuses. You start making excuses, you’ve already lost or are looking for a way out. That’s a topic for someone else. As a team, they’re told that no matter what hand they are dealt, to never give up and through the course of the season they put us in position to win basketball games.”

The Blue Devils played six two-game classics, five on the road. That won’t happen this coming season as some former opponents return to the schedule.

Labette has joined Johnson County, Fort Scott, Highland, Hesston, Brown Mackie and KCKCC in a seven-team Division II conference while the Blue Devils will resume Jayhawk Conference play with Division I teams Cowley, Neosho County and Allen County at home and Independence and Coffeyville on the road.

“We played hard this year but we need to get better in a lot of different areas and we can through recruiting,” Newton said. “One of my goals is to get the school and community behind us and pack the Field House every night. I want this program to be known nationally, not just conference-wide.”

Sporting KC wins over Cruz Azul, 1-0

Fans cheered as Sporting KC won its home opener, 1-0, March 12 at Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by William Crum)

by William Crum
With only 17 minutes into the game, Sporting Kansas City scored the first goal in CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals action Wednesday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The goal was made by Kevin Ellis (No. 4), and at halftime the score was Sporting Kansas City 1, Cruz Azul 0.
This is truly a game that you would not believe, with a sellout crowd of 18,467.
After halftime the battle raged on to the bitter end, and the final score was 1-0.
The second of this two-leg match will be played March 19 in Mexico City, and the team with the most points at the end of the two games will advance to the semifinals.
This was the home opener this season for Sporting Kansas City. If this is how they play the home opener, one can only imagine how they will do the rest of the season.