State champions

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State champions

The boys basketball team poses with their first place trophy with fans and cheerleaders after defeating Augusta.

The boys basketball team poses with their first place trophy with fans and cheerleaders after defeating Augusta.

Photo Courtesy of Piper Activities

The boys basketball team poses with their first place trophy with fans and cheerleaders after defeating Augusta.

Photo Courtesy of Piper Activities

Photo Courtesy of Piper Activities

The boys basketball team poses with their first place trophy with fans and cheerleaders after defeating Augusta.

Kaleb Brown, Co-web editor

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“And now for your Kansas 4A State Tournament champions, the Kansas City Piper Pirates.”

On Saturday, March 9, the Piper boys basketball team claimed their first ever state title in program history. The Pirates polished off a near perfect season with a record of 21-4, by cruising past the Orioles from Augusta beating them with ease with a score of 86-53. Not only is this the first state title in history, the seniors from the class of 2019 made it one to remember for a lifetime.

“Now that I look back on those days in the summer, I can honestly say that all the hard work has finally paid off,” senior Brandon Jackson said. “It feels amazing to be the first team to do what people said we couldn’t do.”

Coming into the state tournament, the Pirates only had one mentality, bring home that first place trophy, and that they did. The Pirates came out hot in the first quarter, converting on many of their first attempts. Augusta got into some foul trouble early, which swung the momentum in the Pirates direction. Once the Pirates took control of the momentum, they jumped into the driver’s seat and never looked back. The Pirates put up a tournament best 40 points in the first half compared to Augusta’s 28.

The Pirates continued to light up the scoreboard in the second half. Throughout the second half, the Pirates were playing the best basketball they have played all year. Stops on defense led to easy points on the offensive side and unselfish play allowed just about everyone to get in on the love. The reality of becoming the first team at Piper to win a state championship was starting to set in as the third quarter expired and the Pirates had the lead over Augusta, 56-39.

“I really just wanted to play for the seniors and help them finish out their careers,” sophomore Tamar Bates said. “And of course I wanted to send my brother out the right way.”

The Pirates were putting on a show during the last quarter of the season with getting easy baskets on fastbreak after fastbreak. All five of the Pirates’ starters scored points into the double digits. At this point in time, it could seem repetitive to some, but the Bates’ brothers came to play for the third round of the tournament. Senior Trey Bates had himself a night providing the Pirates with 21 points and eight assists and sophomore brother Tamar Bates added 20 points for the Pirates and five rebounds to go along with it.

“I had to be the best player on the floor tonight,” Trey Bates said. “I had to give everybody my all, from the administration staff all the way down to the managers, I had to give them my all.”

But the Bates brothers weren’t the only ones scoring the points. Tyren Shelley gave the Pirates 15 points connecting on three of four three point attempts. Braijion Barnes added 12 points and four rebounds despite getting into foul trouble early on. Brandon Jackson put up 11 points, collected five total rebounds and could have gotten the best birthday gift possible, the first ever state championship for Piper High School.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, these are bonds you create for a lifetime and I wouldn’t have wanted to accomplish this goal of winning state with anybody else,” Jackson said. “Moments like this you just can’t script so to do it with the guys that I’ve been playing with for years is just amazing, and I love them forever for this.”

This milestone of winning the first ever state championship at Piper is just the beginning for the program’s success. In recent years, the Pirates have been sent home in the first round of the tournament falling to now 5A Andover-Central. With returning starters Tamar Bates and Tyren Shelley, and Gabe Eskina coming off the bench, the Pirates will look forward to making their return here in Salina next year.

“I think it’ll make us a stronger team because now we know what it takes to get there and what we have to do prior to that, as in the regular season,” Tamar Bates said.

As the Pirates capped off their season, Pirate Nation has something to look forward to for next year. Returning players and coaches will allow the Pirates to expand on their success from this year. As the 2018-2019 basketball season comes to a close, I think everyone can agree that it is always a great day to be a Pirate.

“It’s really sad and amazing at the same time because we knew this was our end goal so ending it and achieving it makes it extremely special,” Trey Bates said.” The seniors and I have been dreaming of this since freshman year so it’s very emotional to actually get it done.”

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