The McPherson High girls found themselves without the services of their leading scorer for a good chunk of the first half, but overcame the obstacles the Hutchinson High Salt Hawks placed in their paths on their way to a 45-32 win Thursday night.
Katelyn Loecker, still battling an illness that plagued her during the Buhler game Tuesday night, found herself in foul trouble early in the second quarter and ended up watching most of the period from the bench. Without Loecker in, the Lady Bullpups struggled to adjust offensively, as the Salt Hawks went on a 9-2 run about halfway through the period that culminated in Hutchinson taking the lead with 3:02 left to play in the frame.
McPherson fought back, but still trailed at the break 21-20. Abby Pederson and Loecker led the Pups in scoring with seven apiece, with Hailey Ruder knocking down three free throws to give her three points for the first half.
Loecker came back into the game in the third quarter and the Bullpups responded, playing more aggressive on both sides of the ball. McPherson would rattle off an 8-0 run to end the third period, outscoring the Salt Hawks 13-2 in the process to go up 33-23 entering the final period.
Hutchinson refused to go quietly, though, as the Bullpups only began outdistancing the Salt Hawks in the final three minutes of the game to win 45-32.
Loecker led all scorers with 18 points, while Ruder added 12, seven of which came at the charity stripe. Pedersen finished with 10 points on the night.
McPherson coach Chris Strathman said the foul issues with Loecker led to them experimenting somewhat with different combinations on the floor.
“The combinations that we had out there, they don’t practice together a whole lot,” Strathman said. “Sometimes that leads to some ugly basketball on the offensive end. But the girls that did come in, like Cassidy Wedel, they got some tips and some rebounds and did a real good job.”
While Hutchinson entered the game at 1-4, Strathman knew the Salt Hawks weren’t going to be a pushover.
“We figured we’d get their best shot,” he said. “We knew their freshmen and junior varsity teams were really good last year. Several of those kids are playing varsity for the first time.”
McPherson moves to 4-2 on the season heading into the Christmas break.
The Pups are back at it on Jan. 4 against Winfield, in what will be only the second home game of the season so far.
The MHS JV girls were equally successful in their game against Hutchinson, winning 50-34 Thursday night. Wedel led the way with 13 points, followed by Jasmine Wann and Paige Schmidt with nine each. Megan Malm added seven for McPherson.
Page 2 of 2 - McPherson — Ruder 2 7-8 12; Willems 0 3-4 3; Pedersen 3 2-5 10; Barnes 1 0-0 2; Loecker 6 6-7 18.
Hutchinson — Moford 1 1-2 4; Rothe 2 0-0 4; Downing 1 1-2 3; Weber 3 0-0 7; Rieser 0 2-2 2; Kraus 3 2-3 8