Freshman Pieper leads Penn-Trafford past Hempfield for 1st win of season

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021 | 10:24 PM


Kam Pieper does not have exotic tastes when it comes to her Christmas list.

The freshman basketball player from Penn-Trafford is keeping it simple this year.

“I don’t know, some Nike socks would be nice,” she said. “All of my other ones have holes in them.”

Pieper nearly put holes in the nets Wednesday night at Hempfield on her way to a career game — and her team’s first win of the season.

With five 3-pointers, the 5-foot-10 Pieper tallied a game-high 19 points to pace four Lady Warriors in double figures in a 63-39 victory in a Class 6A nonsection game.

A usual starter who came off the bench in this game, the guard/forward scored 10 in the first half as the deep-shooting Warriors (1-4) built a 25-16 lead over the opening 16 minutes before gaining separation in the second half.

“I think everyone was kind of feeling it tonight,” Pieper said. “We had a slow start to the season. It’s all coming up from here. Slow start, strong finish.”

Senior Maura Suman added 15 points and 11 rebounds, sophomore Elle Visco had 11 points and sophomore Olivia Pepple chipped in 10 for Penn-Trafford, which skirted around a close first half by outscoring Hempfield (1-5), 38-23, after halftime.

“This was our best shooting game,” Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. “We’ve had shots like this before, we just haven’t been making them. Tonight, they went down.”

Penn-Trafford had scored 30, 27 and 27 points in its past three games, so the season-high 63-point output gave the team confidence heading into its holiday tournament next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Suman hit a jumper out of halftime, and Pieper followed with a 3 to stretch the advantage to 30-16.

Sophomore Sarah Podkul made a 3 and then a mid-range jump shot for Hempfield to cut it to nine (30-21), but Penn-Trafford ballooned the lead to 17 as Visco converted a three-point play and connected on one of eight 3-pointers for the Warriors. Suman’s foul-line jumper made it 42-25 with two minutes left in the third.

“When we shoot it well, we can do some good things,” Giannikas said. “Now we have to get more consistent at it. The kids have been playing hard and taking care of the ball.”

A 12-2 run to open a 20-point fourth allowed Penn-Trafford to take command.

Pieper started the frame with another 3, Suman put back a miss, Pepple finished an and-1 and Suman scored on a break off a steal from Pieper.

Back-to-back 3s from Visco and Pieper made it 61-32.

“We just didn’t execute,” Hempfield coach Tom Brush said. “We didn’t box out, either. On their first two possessions of the second half, they had five offensive rebounds. That can’t happen. We let them drive and kick, and to their credit, they made the shots. We have to be better defensively.”

Hempfield had three players score in double digits led by junior Brooke McCoy with 12 points. Podkul added 11 and freshman Mia Shipman had eight of her 10 in the second half.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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