KC-Piper girls continue winning tradition
Piper High School’s Ryan Cobbins gives back to her community in more ways than just basketball.
She is among the top players in the state of Kansas. The four-year starter has eclipsed 1,000 points in her career and has earned All-State honors her freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons.
According to Cobbins, her nomination as a McDonald’s All-American is the accomplishment she’s most proud of, and even though she wasn't selected she says the nomination is an acknowledgement of her work thus far.
“I remember being a freshman in high school, I sat down with my parents and told them about my future goals as a female athlete in the state of Kansas,” Cobbins said. “Being nominated for that honor was something that I had always dreamed of. Knowing that all of the hard work I’ve put in over the years and the sacrifices my parents have made to put me in this position are now being recognized all over the nation is not only exciting, but truly rewarding and humbling.”
In games Cobbins has started, Piper is 79-6 including back-to-back third place state finishes in Class 4A. But as much as Cobbins means to Piper on the court, she is just as valuable to the program off the court.
“My favorite moment of basketball is not winning a game or making a certain amount of memories,” Cobbins said. “My favorite moment of my basketball career is knowing that we have a special program here at Piper High School. I love being on a team with the culture of winning and hard work.”
Cobbins is the president of Black Leader’s of America at Piper High School. The club welcomes anyone interested in becoming a young leader in the United States. For Cobbins, it’s a way to diversify herself in a country that is becoming increasingly progressive.
“BLA is a positive place for reinforcement for our school and community,” Cobbins said. “Getting to hear and understand different people’s perspectives and experiences is a lifelong skill I’ll be able to use forever.”
Piper head coach Shane Stout knew he had something special with Cobbins when she was in eighth grade. However, Cobbins’ love for basketball started much earlier.
“I was always taken to my older siblings’ basketball practices,” Cobbins said. “Like any younger sibling, I looked up to them. Thanks to my siblings and parents, they knew I would be successful in this sport way before I did.”
Cobbins inherited a fortunate situation when she entered Piper as a freshman. While Stout has no doubt Cobbins had the potential to lead Piper as a 14-year-old, she had the talent around her to naturally transition her game to the high school varsity level.
“You could tell in middle school that she would step in and make an impact on the varsity level right away,” Stout said. “We had a good group ahead of her when she came in so she did not have to carry us.”
Stout has coached three teams in his 19-year career, compiling a 286-132 overall record including 140-36 at Piper. Additionally, he has coached 19 players who later went on to play at the collegiate level. According to Stout, Cobbins is as good as any player he’s ever coached.
“The one thing about Ryan is she is the most well-rounded player that we’ve ever had,” Stout said. “She’s defensively sound, she rarely turns the ball over on offense, she can score, she passes well, she rebounds well, and she’s not selfish.”
This season, Cobbins is averaging over 16 points a game on a Piper team that is 14-0 and currently ranked second in Class 4A behind perennial state power Bishop Miege. Piper’s only loss last year came in the state semifinals to Bishop Miege in a game where they entered the fourth quarter tied.
While nothing is certain in sports, Piper and Bishop Miege look far and away the two best teams in Class 4A. A state championship is not only in grasp for Cobbins and Piper, but it’s a team goal.
“It’s important not to overlook anyone, but I’ve always been told to keep the end in mind,” Cobbins said. “With that being said, we have long-term goals such as winning the state tournament. We gel so well as a team and in order to continue to be successful we have to stay diligent and focused.”
Stout agrees with Cobbins’ assertion that the team has great chemistry.
“All of them are a great bunch of girls,” Stout said. “They know how to have fun with each other and they know when it’s practice or game time to work hard.”
Cobbins is currently undecided on her future after Piper High School, but the end of this year will not be the end of her basketball career. She is in the process of exploring her college options, but has athletic goals beyond college as well.
“I want to make sure the decision I make is the best one possible,” Cobbins said. “If the opportunity may present itself, I would be interested in playing basketball overseas.”
However, Cobbins understands her basketball career will end someday.
“I plan to study speech-language pathology so I can work with people of any age with speech impediments,” Cobbins said. “I’ve always wanted a career that allows me to have a positive impact on somebody’s life.”
Regardless of how her senior year at Piper ends, Cobbins acknowledges her high school career is already a success.
“I’ve made lifelong friends and have had what’s about to be four successful seasons,” Cobbins said. “Every moment with my team and coaching staff is one for the books!”
Gallagher Martin is a sportswriter for the McPherson Sentinel and student at Tabor College where he plays tennis.