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.