Bang! Bang! Pirates hammer Bonner Springs with pressure, offense


By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

A quick note to the Kaw Valley League - you better wake up and prepare for the Piper Pirates boys basketball team.

In a rematch from a close affair in the Panthers Invitational Classic in Paola, Kan., Piper saved the drama for another night as the Pirates crushed Bonner Springs 67-43 on the road.

Piper used pressure defense and smooth transition basketball on offense to pull away from the Braves, winning its sixth-straight game after beginning the year with a close loss to Mill Valley.

Once again, another player stepped up to lead the Pirates in scoring. Vince Eskina scored 13 first half points as the Pirates opened up a cushion early in the second quarter.

After a tight opening six minutes of the game - one that saw the Pirates lead 11-9 - Piper put some distance between Bonner Springs with an 11-3 run to close out the quarter, taking a 22-12 advantage.

Eskina scored five of those points during the run. A three-point play from point guard Calvin Johnson Jr., helped Piper open a six-point lead - the closest Bonner Springs would be the rest of the way.

"I would say (our balance) came from our hard work in the summer," said head coach Steve Wallace, who's guided the Pirates to six wins after the team finished just 2-19 last season. "Our guys are good at realizing who's hot during the game and they find them."

Eskina remained hot in the second quarter. A quick five-point spurt from Eskina increased Piper's lead to 36-16 nearing halftime.

Coming out of the locker-room with a 41-18 lead at halftime, Piper erased any hope of a Bonner Springs comeback with an 8-1 run to begin the second half.

Piper's aggressive defense prevented Bonner Springs' offense from doing much most of the night.

"Every game, we want to put pressure on the other team," Wallace said. "We want to get into the passing lanes and I honestly think we can do better in that area."

Along with Eskina, Piper point guard Calvin Johnson did a very nice job executing the offense and helping Piper keep the tempo in its favor most of the evening.

"Calvin brings some good experience for us," Wallace said. "He's been in a lot of different situations (results wise). He's becoming a calming factor for us."

As one might imagine in a lopsided score, Piper used a handful of runs to put the Braves away.

The biggest came in the second quarter, as Piper used a 17-6 run to extend a 10-point lead into a 21-point lead advantage. Piper had scoring runs of 11-3, 17-6 and 8-1 during the game.

Piper improves to 6-1 on the season.