By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com
For the first time since George W. Bush was president, the Piper Pirates have a regular season tournament championship to celebrate.
Piper defeated Bonner Springs 64-61 in the final of the 2012 Panthers Invitational Tournament in Paola, Kan.
As he has all season long, guard Luke Long was the story for the Pirates offense.
Long had a game-high 21 points, including three three-pointers on six attempts. Long came into the game averaging just over 14 points a night. Long was also warm from inside the arc - missing just two shots inside the three-point line.
The junior received help from another junior - Dominique Jennings. Jennings, who had a double-double against the Harmon Hawks in the opening round game, wrapped up his solid tournament with 10 points. Senior point guard Calvin Johnson added 10 points of his own.
Piper trailed 16-12 after one quarter, but gained a 34-31 halftime lead after scoring 22 points in the second quarter.
On the Bonner Springs side of things, Austen Twombley scored 15 points in the game - leading the Braves in scoring. Jordan Jackson had a season-high 12 points, with Logan Terrell and Zshavon Dotson adding eight points a piece.
It's the first tournament championship for Piper since 2007, when David Hall served as the head coach of the Pirates varsity program.
After a rough first-year for second-year head coach Steve Wallace, it's clear the Pirates ship is turning around in boys basketball. Finishing seventh in essentially the same tournament last season that was held in Eudora, Piper won just three games the entire 2011-12 season.
Four games into the 2012-13 season, Piper's matched that win total.
Piper leaves Paola with a 3-1 record, the only loss coming to an undefeated 5A squad at Mill Valley High School. Bonner Springs drops its first game of the season.