While many teams are wrapping up their basketball season, the Piper Pirates are just now finishing business.
After the Pirates’ win against Sumner Academy on March 2, in a 78-60 matchup, the team was granted a spot in the state tournament versus Andale, which has an overall record of 20-2 this season. Named substate champions, and making a turnaround from last year’s season with a record of 2-19, the Pirates feel as though they are ready to take on the next chapter in their basketball story.
Luke Long, junior guard, feels the Pirates have come a long way from the beginning of the season.
“We all thought we had a good chance to go far this year,” Long said. “We only lost a couple people from last year and we thought we had a good chance to make it to state.”
Long averages 12 points with one assist and two rebounds per game, and feels that the factor that sets this year’s team apart from last year’s is experience.
“We have more experience since the team was so young last year,” Long said. “And this year’s team is a lot deeper and we have a lot of players we can play, unlike last year.”
The Pirates are making their first state appearance since 2007, when they were under coach David Hall, and are prepared to make the comeback due to second-year coach Steve Wallace.
“This summer he was really dedicated to making the team get better and helping individual players get better,” Long said. “He had us play a lot of games over the summer and really pushed us to become better players.”
Long has shown he can hold his own this season. During the 2012 Panthers Invitational Tournament in Paola, Kan., Long powered through with a season-high of 21 points. In Long’s own game, he feels as though he has made himself a better player since the 2011-2012 season.
“I feel I have improved a lot since last season. I was relied on more this season and I think I have matured as a player,” Long said.
The Piper Pirates will play in the state tournament in Salina on Wednesday, March 6, and Long feels there are high expectations for his team.
“I expect us to compete and play well,” Long said. “It will be something we’ll always remember. I am very excited to play and anxious to go.”