In a Twitter poll that drew nearly 1,000 total votes, Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty 2019 guard Piper Francis is the SWMOBasketball Week 2 Player of the Week.
A 5’10 wing player who can do a little bit of everything on the court, Francis says she is a determined player who brings versatility and an all-around skill set to the basketball court for the Eagles.
“I like to get after it on both ends of the floor,” she says. “To me it is just as much fun to get a big rebound as it is to score a huge basket.”
Through the first six games, she is averaging 23.3 points per game, 8.0 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. She is shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and is second on the team with seven 3-pointers made and is shooting 81 percent from the free throw line.
Francis is coming off a strong summer competing for the Missouri Valley Magic, a talented team that featured several of southwest Missouri’s premier players.
“My summer experience was an absolute blast!” Francis said. “I got to play with a lot of great players, as well as play against really tough competition. We won the Battle of the Burrow tournament in Louisville, Kentucky and most of the other tournaments we played in. I grew from learning styles of coaching from Allen and Coach Frank. They really helped me on my defense and improve on my overall game.”
Off to a 3-3 start this season, Francis says the Lady Eagles are still adjusting to adding head coach Eli Ernst and a new coaching staff. The team won its first two games, then lost three of its last four. They will next face Eminence this week, followed by a tough game against Bradleyville at College of the Ozarks on Saturday.
“We are still learning the new system, but I believe that it will pay off at the end of the season,” Francis said. “Coach Ernst is really teaching us a lot and has great knowledge of the game. I can’t wait to see where he leads us. As for the girls on my team, they are all really stepping up their game. Their hard work is really showing and starting to pay off on the floor.”
Francis says the team she is looking forward to playing most this season is Licking, a team that features fellow 2019 standout Karlee Holland and also a squad that knocked off her Liberty squad in districts last season.
“You can always expect a really tough game every time you play them,” Piper said.
Francis says her family has had the biggest impact on her basketball career to date.
“They always have my back and they are always there for me to push me to do my best,” she says. “They are the reason I’m the player and the person I am today.”
Francis says she enjoys watching another small school standout Alexa Willard, who has since made it big play and is currently playing at Missouri State University.
“I got a chance to workout with her a few times over the summer,” Francis says. “Just her overall work ethic, style of play and love of the game is awesome. She can literally play all five spots on the floor at any time. I try to take all of it from her work ethic, to the way she carries herself on the floor and put it into my game.”
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