Crothersville senior to continue basketball career at Centre College

Out in the family’s driveway, Kevin Hensley would blindfold his third grader and tell her to dribble five times without looking.

After completion, Piper Hensley would switch hands and go through the same drill before switching to a new skill to work on.

Nine years later, the Hensleys could still be found working together on Piper’s game.

In high school, the point guard would put up 1,000 shots on Saturdays at Crothersville High School.

Sundays were the same story.

All of those extra practices over the years paid off for Piper, as she helped CHS win its first sectional title as a sophomore before leaving the school with every 3-point record the program held.

While her high school days on the hardwood have come to an end, the sharpshooter doesn’t plan on hanging up her sneakers any time soon.

On Thursday, Piper signed to continue her hoops career at Centre College.

“I started playing when I was about 3 or 4 years old, and I’ve always just kind of had a drive,” Piper said. “I’ve always had that dream, and that’s what has motivated me all these years. I didn’t know where I was going to go, but I knew that I was going to go somewhere.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I get four more years and will get to continue to grow. I’m excited for the new experience.”

Centre, located in Danville, Kentucky, is an NCAA Division III school that competes in the Southern Athletic Association. The SAA has eight member schools representing Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Kevin, who also is the head varsity girls coach at CHS, said Piper has always wanted to play college basketball.

“It was probably when she started playing in elementary school when she first mentioned it,” Kevin said. “She had a different drive in her than a lot of kids had. She would push herself to get better, even if nobody was around.”

The Colonels are coached by Wendie Austin-Robinson, who has led the program since the 2005-06 season. Since that time, she has recorded more wins than any coach in the women’s basketball program’s history with a record of 182-179.

Austin-Robinson is a three-time Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year winner. She was named the WBCA Region 5 Coach of the Year in 2012 and was a finalist for the WBCA/Russell Athletic National Coach of the Year after a 26-4 regular season in 2011-12. The Colonels captured SCAC regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen that season.

The Colonels, who switched from the SCAC to SAA in 2012, finished 13-14 this past winter.

“I went there for the first time my sophomore year for a basketball camp,” Piper said. “I got to meet the coaches for the first time, and they were very welcoming and friendly. I absolutely loved them, and I thought the campus was gorgeous, as well.”

Hensley leaves CHS with multiple records and accolades. The senior is fourth all-time in scoring for the Tigers with 1,120 points and holds school records for 3s in a game (9), single season (75) and career (240).

“If you leave her open, she usually hits the shot, especially the long ball,” coach Hensley said. “She’s a great ball-handler, too. I know she will need to develop some more muscle because her competition will be bigger and stronger.”

In her senior season, Piper averaged 14.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1.5 steals per game.

While she knows she will have to fight for playing time, Piper believes her shooting skills will translate to the college game.

“I feel like I can contribute with my shooting abilities,” she said. “They don’t really have just a 3-point shooter, and that’s my specialty.”

The two-time All-Southern Athletic Conference member made The Tribune’s All-County team all four years and also was named All-District 4 Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association as a senior.

Coach Hensley said he’s proud his daughter is continuing her career, and he believes Piper’s work ethic has rubbed off on the rest of the team.

Piper plans on studying anthropology and sociology and would like to become a criminologist in the future.