McPherson High’s boys were able to find their way through the forest of Andover Central’s trees here Friday night, rallying for a 59-56 victory to preserve their perfect season and most likely retain their No. 1 state ranking.


This one was Topeka Expocentre worthy.
McPherson High’s boys were able to find their way through the forest of Andover Central’s trees here Friday night, rallying for a 59-56 victory to preserve their perfect season and most likely retain their No. 1 state ranking.
It was a matchup of undefeated teams, both of which are expected to find their way to Topeka in March.
It had more ups and downs than a roller-coaster ride, but in the end, the Bullpups made just enough plays  -- and free throws -- to move to 5-0 on the year.
“When we got down four (53-49 with 3:04 to go), I thought we really dug deep defensively,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “Our undersized post guys did a great job of battling all night. A lot of things led to that (the comeback). It was a hard-fought game that’s going to make us better. It’s lot more fun to get better when you win.”
 After MHS sprinted to a 16-7 lead in the first six minutes, the Jags -- who at times had 6-10, 6-8 and 6-4 on the floor -- used an 11-0 lick to gain the lead at 18-16 and the teams never were separated the rest of the way by more than just a few points.
In the fourth quarter, the Bullpups turned to Parker Hambley for a key surge. After a Christian Ulsaker 3-pointer pulled MHS within 53-52, the Bullpups got the ball back and Hambley hit a runner to make it 54-53, then he hit a pair of free throws for push the lead to three. Andover Central never tied it the rest of the way and MHS held on despite missing eight free throws in the fourth quarter and 13 for the game, going 17 of 30.
Ulsaker led MHS with 23 points, while Jack Pyle scored 22. Only four Bullpups scored. Adam Wilks, the 6-8 center, led the Jags with 14.
MHS actually out-rebounded Andover Central in the second half to lose that battle only 35-31, with Hambley pulling down nine.
The MHS JVs were a 53-39 winner behind 12 points apiece by Marcus Houghton and Cody Cape, while Keaton Sorenson added 10. The freshmen were a 37-29 winner, as Ryan Horton scored 13 and Dylan Stos added 11.
MHS returns to action Jan. 4 hosting Great Bend.
MHS (59) -- Hart 2 1-2 6; Pyle 7 7-10 22; Hambley 3 2-4 8; Robinson 0 0-2 0; Ulsaker 6 7-12 23. Totals - 18 17-30 59. 3-pointers -- Ulsaker 4, Hart 1, Pyle 1.
Andover Central (56) -- Lock 2 3-4 8; McWhorter 2 2-2 8; Clements 1 0-0 2; Winer 0 1-2 1; Kretchmar 3 0-0 9; Kaufman 2 1-2 5; A. Wilks 5 4-7 14; Stiverson 2 5-8 9. Totals - -17 16-25 56. 3-pointers -- Kretchmar 3, McWhorter 2, Lock 1.
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MHS JV (53) -- Houghton 5 2-4 12; Reber 2 2-3 6; Miller 2 0-0 5; Torres 0 0-4 0; Dixon 3 0-3 6; Bahr 0 2-2 2; Sorenson 5 0-1 10; Cape 5 2-4 12. Totals -- 22 8-21 53. 3-pointers -- Miller 1.
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MHS frosh (37) -- R. Horton 2 8-9 13; Porter 2 2-4 7; Stos 3 4-5 11; Harvey 1 0-0 2; Zeitlow 1 0-1 2; P. Horton 1 0-0 2. Totals - 10 14-19 37. 3-pointers -- R. Horton 2.