The McPherson Middle School eighth grade boys’ basketball team finished out their season on Thursday by winning the Pioneer League Championship with a 39-31 victory over Salina Lakewood. With the victory, the boys finish the season 13-3 overall.

Falling behind at 14-6 at the end of the first quarter, the Pups went into lockdown mode on defense and held Salina Lakewood to just two second quarter points and then finished with a bang in the fourth quarter by outscoring Lakewood 15-4 to gain the eight-point win and the league championship.

As he has much of the season, Seth Madron led the McPherson offense by dropping in 16 points, while Gus Ruddle finished with eight as only five Pups put points in the scorebook.

“What an exciting game,” said head coach Tyler Brown. “While we got off to a slow start in the first quarter, I challenged the team defensively and in rebounding the ball at the end of that quarter and they responded in a big way. We had a little dip in the third quarter but finished with a bang and you just saw confident body language and the will to do what it takes to win. It was fun to watch each one of the boys be locked in and ready to bring home another Pioneer League Championship.”

When talking about the team and the season, Brown gave out credit where credit was due.

“This was a special group of boys, they have a lot of intangibles that you can’t coach," Brown said. "Big, athletic, quick and fast, are a few things that describe this team. Coach Cape was able to assist tonight and stepped right in and contributed to a great win. That’s not to say that Coach Sandbo wasn’t missed as he was a huge asset to the team. I also wanted to say thank you to our seventh grade coach Eric Burghart, as he works extremely hard to get these guys ready for eighth grade basketball. Coach Burghart doesn’t give himself enough credit as he does a great job.”

Brown has high expectations for the team as they look toward careers at McPherson High School in the future.

“What can I say, this group has improved tremendously from the beginning of the year to the end of the year," Brown said. "The crazy thing is they have improved so much, but still have so much more to still improve upon. When this group matures a little more and when they really put the time in, the sky is the limit. I enjoyed working with all of them and hope to see them playing at McPherson High School next season!”

8th Grade Boys Scoring: Seth Madron 16, Gus Ruddle 8, Anthony Brooks 6, Jayden Dukes 5, Trey Buckbee 4.