It may be a little unfair to judge the McPherson High girls’ basketball team by their first two games.
The Lady Bullpups are 0-2 to start the season, but those two losses come to Salina Central and Washburn Rural, both teams that are ranked in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association top 10 for Class 5A and 6A, respectively and are both 3-0 to start the year.
They would be tough challenges for any team, much less a young MHS team still trying to figure out who they will be on the court this season.
“We knew we would have a tough road these first two games,” MHS coach Chris Strathman said. “And it’s sure turned out that way. I felt better about our chances, match up-wise, tonight [against Washburn Rural] than I did against Salina Central, but we just couldn’t contain [Courtney] Winkley inside.”
The Washburn Rural senior unloaded for 28 points against MHS (0-2), as the Lady Blues won Friday 60-50.
The Pups looked to turn their fortunes around in the first quarter, as senior Abby Pedersen exploded for 12 points and fought to a 17-17 tie after the opening period.
Winkley, however, took over, offensively, in the second quarter, scoring nine points, and Pedersen was held to a pair of free throws. Washburn Rural (3-0) rolled on a 20-7 run that left MHS trailing 37-24 at the intermission.
“They did super job of knowing who their scorer was and continuing to go to her,” Strathman said of Rural’s second quarter run. “We’ve got to learn from that. Abby goes off in the first quarter and they start taking her away. Well, we’ve got to do a good job getting her the ball in scoring position, whether that’s off penetration, inside-outs or whatever.”
Washburn Rural threatened to put the game well out of reach for MHS in the third quarter, as the Pups only managed seven points to the Lady Blues’ 13, but an outstanding team effort from the foul line in the fourth had McPherson threatening to knock the score down to single digits in the final two minutes.
The Lady Bullpups shot 9-for-10 in the final period.
Pedersen finished the game with 22 points, the only Pup to reach double digits. Janae Barnes was just a point shy, however, as she had six points in the fourth quarter as McPherson made the late push.
Both the JV and freshmen girls had better luck against the Lady Blues, as both won their games. The JV were 40-26 winners, while the freshmen won 55-13. Stats were unavailable at press time.
While Strathman will take these first two games and learn from them, he is focused more on Tuesday’s home league opener against Mulvane.
Page 2 of 2 - One area he’s particularly concerned with is the point guard position, as no one has really stepped up and claimed the spot held previously by Hailey Ruder.
“I don’t like point guard by committee,” Strathman said. “I like to have one person that’s ready to step up and handle the ball and take control of the team, but if somebody’s playing well, we’re going to just have to play it with whomever is playing it right that night. The bad thing is it may take you a quarter to figure that out and that quarter may do you in.”
McPherson will host Mulvane Tuesday night at the Roundhouse, with tip off at 6 p.m.