Pirates win overtime thriller over Aquinas

Junior Dylin Taylor-Cantu made the basket and was fouled on a drive to the basket in Piper’s overtime win against St. Thomas Aquinas. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

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.

Junior Tamar Bates put up a contested jump shot in the lane. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Taylor-Cantu was encouraged by his teammates as he headed to the line after being fouled on a late fourth-quarter drive. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Sophomore Jaron Briggs looked to put a shot over the Aquinas defense. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Senior Gabe Eskina calmly hit two free throws to tie the game in the fourth quarter. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
The Piper cheerleaders reacted to the comeback win. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Jaron Briggs, lower right, wrestled for a loose ball on the court. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
The Piper dance team performed at halftime. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Piper guidance counselor Polly Vader was congratulated after receiving a School Spirit award presented by Varsity Brands. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)
Freshman Lance Bassett grabbed an offensive rebound. (Photo copyright 2020 by Brian Turrel)

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