For seven straight games, the McPherson High girls looked nigh unbeatable, rolling through opponent after opponent with ease.

For seven straight games, the McPherson High girls looked nigh unbeatable, rolling through opponent after opponent with ease.

That all changed Friday night against Kylee Kopatich and Olathe South.

The Falcons showed exactly why they were the top team in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association's 6A girls ranking, thanks in part to the sophomore Kopatich, who refused to be contained by the McPherson defense.

"(Kopatich) is just so good," MHS coach Chris Strathman said after the 43-35 loss. "She just kept getting the ball back when we tried to get it out of her hands. There's a lot of schools that have already offered her and she's only a sophomore."

The first two quarters were living up to the defensive battle hype, as South and McPherson traded blows in the first quarter, with neither really able to get the upper-hand.

Olathe South carried a slight 7-6 lead into the second quarter, and was able to stretch that out a bit, but Hannah Willems sparked a late period 7-2 run with a smooth layup to cut the Falcon lead to 16-15.

Willems then followed that up with a three-point shot at the 2:32 mark to give McPherson an 18-16 lead that they carried into halftime.

The Bullpup defense proved up to the task of keeping Kopatich contained in the first half, holding her to six points on 2-of-6 shooting and 1-of-4 from the foul line.

The third quarter, unfortunately, is what eventually kept the Bullpups out of their first Mid America Classic championship game since 2009. Kopatich scored nine of the Falcons' 11 third quarter points, while the Bullpup offense was put on ice. The only two McPherson points in the period came on a pair of Katelyn Loecker free throws.

The fourth quarter was a little more lively for the Bullpups, but Kopatich seemed to cut through the defense with ease, stretching the South lead to 11 points at one point before McPherson was able to cut it down to seven in the final two minutes of play.

Kopatich finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double. Loecker was the only other player in double digits with 17 points.

Strathman said he and his assistant coaches knew going into the game how good Kopatich was.

"The thing we talked about most was trying to keep her out of the lane," Strathman said. "She's such a good finisher, but when she gets in the paint, all the other players are that much better, too. Because she got help, got easy kick outs for shots, things like that."

Regardless of the result, Strathman said the Bullpups did defend the way he wanted them too.
"We forced kick outs, we played the percentages," he said. "We forced a few threes from girls that aren't normally shooting great percentages. But we wanted (Kopatich) to have to kick out the ball."
McPherson (9-3) will now face Andale in the third place game tonight at 5:30 p.m.

"Third place games show a lot about people," Strathman said. "I think our competitive nature, from our leaders in particular, I think we'll be okay."

It will be the first of two meetings in three days between the Bullpups and the Indians. Andale will be back in the Roundhouse Tuesday night for a non-league game.

Olathe South (11-0) will face Manhattan in the championship game at 7:15 p.m.

McPherson — Ruder 2-8 0-0 5; Pyle 1-5 0-1 2; Willems 2-6 0-0 5; Pedersen 2-7 2-3 6; Loecker 5-15 5-5 17.

Olathe South — Finks 2-4 0-2 5; Matje 1-3 0-0 3; White 1-5 1-2 3; Kopatich 7-14 11-16 26; Samskey 1-3 0-0 2; Morton 1-2 2-4 4.