Piper carries FSHS girls, 59-48

? During practices in the past week, Free State High’s girls basketball coach Bryan Duncan told sophomore Madison Piper to be more aggressive on offense and try to get more drives to the rim.

Piper listened, and she couldn’t be stopped by Shawnee Mission South defenders, delivering a game-high 25 points in a 59-48 victory at SM South.

The 5-foot-10 Piper was rewarded with plenty of trips to free-throw line, and she knocked down 14 of her 15 attempts.

Senior forward Sarah Coversup followed her lead with 21 points, including nine at the free-throw line.

“I’d say we were steady tonight on both ends of the floor,” Duncan said. “Ultimately, our biggest goal is to get the ball inside, and we had Madison and Sarah combine for 46 points, and we were 23-of-25 from the line combined, so I think that speaks for itself on what we needed to do to be successful.”

The ninth-ranked Firebirds (13-4) were down by three points early in the second quarter before senior forward Adriana Jadlow started a 15-0 run over five minutes with a layup, assisted by Piper.

Piper scored five points in the stretch while Jadlow and Coversup had four points apiece, and senior forward Hannah Shoemaker made a layup, assisted by senior point guard Morgan Gantz.

“I think more than anything, it was just settling in and getting to used to their style of play,” Duncan said. “The biggest thing was also just handling their pressure. We adjusted a little on our press break. We controlled the tempo after the first quarter.”

The Firebirds moved Coversup to the back of their press-break defense, instead of having her help bring the ball up the court, and she used her 6-foot-1 frame inside the paint to knock down layups through contact.

“I just go up hard,” Coversup said. “I don’t expect the foul, but if the foul comes, I just shoot it. I’ve been working hard on my free throws because last year I was only, like, 70 percent. This year, I’m about 80-something (percent).”

In the second half, Piper and Coversup combined for 29 of Free State’s 31 points.

Piper, who is second in the Sunflower League with 17.2 points per game, also has been taking care of ball-handling duties, with freshman point guard Cameryn Thomas sidelined by injury.

“If you look at last year and this year, there’s a big difference,” said Piper, who completed a double-double with 10 rebounds. “I think I’ve become way more comfortable. At practice I’m handling it against people. I know I have Sarah there to help me. I’m way more confident. I feel just comfortable handling it, but I am very excited to have Cameryn coming back.”

The Raiders (4-13) fought back with a few runs in the second half, going on a 8-0 run midway through the third quarter to cut the score to 34-28. Coversup answered with seven straight points and assist on a layup to Piper.

In the fourth quarter, SM South trailed 49-43 with 3:57 remaining before Jadlow made a layup and Piper went 8-for-8 at the free throw line in the final two minutes.

After a 21-point loss to third-ranked Olathe South on Friday, the Firebirds wanted to bounce back with a strong performance.

“The Olathe South loss was a big one for us because we want to go far at the end of the season and we want to, at least, make it to state,” Piper said. “I know that we are really are started to focus on that and we’re just trying to play each game as hard as we can to get better.”

The Firebirds will face Olathe East at 5:30 p.m. Friday at FSHS.

Free State (59)

Morgan Gantz 0-0 0-0 0, Adriana Jadlow 3-6 0-0 6, Madison Piper 5-12 14-15 25, Hannah Walter 1-1 0-0 2, Sarah Coversup 6-9 9-10 21, Hannah Shoemaker 1-1 0-0 2, Jaycie Bishop 1-6 0-0 3. Totals 17-35 23-25 59.

Shawnee Mission South (48)

Elizabeth Holmes 4-9 1-4 11, Taylor Cossairt 1-3 0-0 2, Robyn McDonald 1-6 1-4 3, Ashlie Fischer 0-0 0-4 0, Clara Sitas 4-6 1-2 10, Sidney Holler 0-2 2-3 2, Megan Stollsteimer 2-5 2-2 7, Karoline Shelton 2-5 2-2 7, Nikki Norton 1-4 0-0 3, Madi McAvoy 0-6 3-5 3. Totals 15-46 12-26 48.

Free State 11 17 15 16 — 59

SM South 13 4 16 15 — 48

Three-point field goals: Free State 2-6 (Piper, Bishop); SM South 6-23 (Holmes 2, Sitas, Stollsteimer, Shelton, Norton). Fouled out: Walter. Turnovers: Free State 15, SM South 12.