by Brian Turrel
The Piper boys basketball team held off two late runs by the St. Joseph Lafayette Fighting Irish to win the championship of the Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic on Saturday evening at De Soto High School.
The final score was 70 to 63. Piper never trailed, but the result was less comfortable than the score indicates. Lafayette had a chance to tie or take the lead twice in the final quarter.
In the first half, the Pirates looked like they would win it easily, building a 21-8 lead in the games opening minutes. Piper used its transition game to get easy scores, and hit 4 of 9 three-point shots in the half, going to the break with a 41-25 advantage.
In the second half, Lafayette slowed down Piper’s offense, applying pressure in the backcourt. The Pirates’ shooting touch also left them, hitting just 1 of 7 three-pointers. Through the third and fourth quarters, the Irish went on a 17 to 3 run that pulled them within 2 points with four minutes left in the game.
The Pirates responded with a run of their own to get some breathing space, but Lafayette continued to pressure. The Irish won key defensive rebounds and created consecutive turnovers to get back within 3 in the final minute.
With six seconds remaining, freshman Lance Bassett secured a defensive rebound and was fouled. He knocked down both free throws to secure the win.
Jaron Briggs led the Pirates in scoring with 18 points. Briggs was aggressive in driving the lane, and earned 6 points at the free throw line as a result. Tamar Bates scored 16, hitting all seven of his shots from the field. Bassett scored 11. Dylin Taylor-Cantu led the team with 5 rebounds.
Piper defeated Blue Valley Southwest and Olathe North in the first two rounds to get to the championship game. They hold a 4-0 record and will play at Bonner Springs on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be the Braves’ senior night for winter sports.