Pipping producing at guard for Christian Liberty
Mikala Pipping played forward in Christian Liberty's first nine games this season.
In the last two, the senior from Lake Zurich moved to guard,and it has only been forward progress.
Pipping scored a career-high 15 points with three 3-pointers in Tuesday's 37-33 win over Willows Academy and came back on Thursday night to score 14 points with two clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that helped the Chargers seal a 40-32 nonconference victory over visiting Hiawatha.
The Hawks (2-11) erased an 11-point second-quarter deficit and edged ahead 27-26 with a 3-point play by sophomore guard Michelle Percudani with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
But Pipping's 14-footer got the Chargers (8-3) the lead back at 28-27 late in the third quarter.
She then led off the final period with her first 3-pointer for a 31-27 advantage.
Pipping's second 3-pointer gave the hosts a 36-29 cushion with 2:12 left.
The 5-foot-10 Pipping, a three-year varsity player, advanced to the sectionals of last year's IHSA 3-point shooting contest.
"I just try to take my time and have confidence when shooting them," Pipping said of her long-range skills. "I like the move to guard. I have more opportunities to shoot."
That was the exact reason Chargers first-year coach Shawna Elleson made the move that has paid off quickly with five 3-pointers in two games.
"I saw she was overshooting the basket a little as a post so we decided to move Emi (Aikawa) to post and get Mikala outside. It has turned out to be a good decision because she is draining 3s."
And Aikawa showed what she can do inside, as the 5-9 freshman tossed in all 9 of her points in the first half.
"Emi is going to be a very good player," said Elleson of the Palatine resident. "I'm proud of the way the girls have been playing. I'm excited for the future."
And why not? Elleson started two sophomores, two freshmen and team captain Pipping on Thursday.
Sophomore Jasmine Marsh (Mt. Prospect) chipped in 11 points while sophomore guard Eve Rho (Des Plaines) added 6, all outside shots from 17 feet in the first half.
Percudani was the top scorer for Hiawatha, a public school located in Kirkland, about a 90-minute drive to Christian Liberty.
The Hawks are coached by Jenna Real Araujo, the all-time leader girls scorer for Burlington Central and co-captain of the 2003 Daily Herald Fox Valley all-area team with Bartlett's Lindsay Schrader.
"We started off a little slow at the beginning (falling behind 11-2)," said Araujo, an art teacher at Hiawatha who is in her second year as the Hawks' head coach. "We were playing scared. But we had a nice comeback in the second quarter and cut our turnovers down a little."
Araujo is trying to build the program.
"We started this season with ten girls and now we're down to seven due to injuries," she said. "So it's rough. We're getting there. We're building. We are doing the best we can despite the injuries. These kids don't give up. They keep fighting. Hopefully it's going to pay off."