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P.O. Male Athlete of the Week: Gage Piper

Gage Piper was one of a senior class of seven players who helped James Buchanan gradually turn itself into a winning basketball program over the past several years.

Now that his time with the Rockets is over, he is doing what he can to keep that success coming.

He also had a pretty decent final week of his career, totaling 28 points, and is the Public Opinion Male Athlete of the Week.

"He's always been a guy who helps us preach the team concept, and he's a real gym rat," JB coach Larry Strawoet said. "He just loves the game. He's been active with the young kids in our camps and just last weekend he helped a bunch of fifth- and sixth-grade teams. The program means so much to him ... he's a special kid who I'll really miss."

Piper is aware of the sacrifice it took to bring the Rockets to a 13-10 final record - their best mark since the 2006-07 season.

"It's up to the underclassmen now," he said. "They have to carry on what we started. We had dedication - like going on early morning runs. They'll have to carry on those routines and work hard."

Last Tuesday, Piper equaled his career-best scoring night when he dropped in 19 points in a 52-44 victory over Southern Fulton.

"We just felt like we had nothing to lose in that game," he said. "That was one of our better offensive games of the year because we really swung the ball around well. My teammates just got me the ball and, I guess, I put it in."

Strawoet said, "I don't know that anybody expected that result, but the kids just enjoyed themselves. It looked like the game just slowed down for Gage in that one, and he could see the next move and make the next cut. He created a lot of good things."

Friday, in a last-second 52-50 loss to Lancaster Catholic in a District 3 Class AAA play-in game, Piper added nine points

"It was very close the whole way; we just had a few defensive letdowns," Piper said, "and we had some opportunities toward the end to run the clock down and turned it over. So it was a little frustrating.

"But overall, the season was a success. It was the first playoff game in nine years for us, and it was refreshing to turn the program around and have a positive year. We grew close to each other, and to the fans and the coaches."

Piper is hoping to continue his basketball career next year at Penn State Mont Alto.

Gage Piper, James Buchanan

Sport: Basketball

Grade: Senior

Height: 5-foot-10

Parents: Jamie and Tracy Piper

Interests: He plays baseball for the Rockets.

Surprising fact: "I love to collect clothes and shoes, mostly sneakers," Piper said. His favorite shoes? A pair of Concorde Jordan 11s.

Favorite team: Golden State Warriors.

Favorite player: Steph Curry.

Statistics: In a win over Southern Fulton last Tuesday, Piper equaled his career high with 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers ... He also scored 9 points in a 52-50 loss to Lancaster Catholic in a District 3 Class AAA play-in game on Friday ... He averaged 10.2 points per game.