Just when you think you’ve seen the best of the McPherson College men, they one-up themselves.
The Bulldogs, who have been nothing short of sensational over the last month, put together a stunning second half here Thursday night to blow away Saint Mary 83-57 to wrap up a first-round KCAC Tournament home game.
The Bulldogs’ ninth straight win improved them to 11-6 in the KCAC and they are now tied with Tabor for second place. In a bit of irony, the top four teams are matched up Saturday, as Mac goes to KCAC champion Sterling, while Tabor is at fourth-place Bethany. Mac thus could end up in second or third, depending on what happens on what should be a wild final night of conference play.
The Bulldogs led the Spires -- the last team to beat them back on Jan. 15 -- only 36-33 at the half despite shooting 54 percent to just 35 percent for the Spires.
But Mac’s depth and athleticism took over in the second half. The Bulldogs stepped on the gas and had the Spires gasping, as they outscored Saint Mary 47-24 in a spectacular 20 minutes.
“I think one of the big things is I feel like this team is in better shape than any of the other teams in our conference,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team is now 17-11 overall. “We have a lot of depth and guys have accepted their roles. Right now we’re playing the best defense of any team in our conference.”
McPherson High grads Aaron Frazier and Jordan Crawford put on electric performances. Frazier was on fire with 18 first-half points and finished with 28, while Crawford made 8 of 9 shots and scored 20 points with several breathtaking moves around the basket. Mason Hewitt added 10 points off the bench.
Mac led only 43-40 with 14:07 to go in the game, but then it took off behind a blinding fast break. Once in the lead, the Bulldogs went to their patented spread offense to dissect the Spires, closing the game on a 26-10 run. They finished the game 31 of 59 from the field, 16 of 21 at the foul line.
Mac’s only senior, Trent Severs, was terrific in his final regular-season home game. While he scored only two points, he dealt out 10 assists and in large part held the KCAC’s leading scorer, Brandon Coleman, to just 13 points, as he was just 2 of 11 from the field. Jeb Greenberg led the Spires with 15 points.
“I was so happy for Trent,” Swartzendruber said. “Obviously on Senior Night it’s special. He had a great game.”
Swartzendruber said Saturday’s game, even though Sterling has wrapped up the title, will be festive.
“It will be fun. They wrapped it up tonight, but for us it’s still a big game,” Swartzendruber said. “We still have a chance at second.”
Mac (83) -- Jackson 1 0-0 2; Frazier 9 9-10 28; Severs 0 2-3 2; Shivers 3 1-1 9; Powers 1 0-0 2; Reinhardt 1 0-0 2; Crawford 8 2-2 20; Bruner 1 0-0 2; C. Crawford 2 2-2 6; Hewitt 5 0-1 10. Totals -- 31 16-21 83. 3-pointers -- Shivers 2, J. Crawford 2, Frazier 1.
Saint Mary (57) -- Combs 3 0-0 7; Dougherty 1 1-2 3; Coleman 2 9-10 13; Crutchfield 1 2-2 4; Wing 2 0-0 5; Greenberg 4 6-11 15; McGory, 1 1-1 3; Hale 1 1-1 3; N. White 1 2-2 4. Totals -- 16 22-30 57. 3-pointers -- Combs 1, Wing 1, Greenberg 1.