SALINA — The last time the McPherson High School girls basketball team and Augusta High School met was on Jan. 9 of this season, and the Lady Pups blew the Orioles out 62-37. Two months later, the Orioles were much improved, but not enough to get the win as the Lady Pups defeated Augusta 62-48. The Lady Pups will move on to face Altamont Labette County High School in the next round of the Class 4A Division I State Tournament.
The Lady Pups had a fast start in the first quarter, shooting 5-6 from the 3-point line and giving themselves a 22-10 lead in the first quarter. However, Augusta wouldn't give in to the No. 3 seed. In the second quarter, the Orioles went on an 8-0 run to make it a close game. For the Lady Pups, it went from a 12-point to a 6-point lead at halftime.
"The big thing with us is that Augusta is so familiar with us, and they know a lot about our stuff. It's kind of weird to play an elite team in the first round. It wasn't easy for us. Augusta is so much improved at liberating and patience. They got deep too many times and got too many post steps, but we came out with the win and that's important," Lady Pups head coach Chris Strathman said after the game.
The Orioles made an impact on the inside by outscoring the Lady Pups 32-18 from the paint. For McPherson, scoring 25-8 off turnovers and shooting 47 percent from behind the arc kept them in this game and leading in double-figures, especially in the second half.
Despite only making one 3-pointer, Taylor Robertson led the Lady Pups with 20 points. However, it was McPherson's depth in role players and bench players that made a difference throughout the game. Lakyn Schieferecke had her best night with 12 points. Seven of them came from the first half. Both Riley Hett and Hannah Hageman came through as well as they tied for eight points and five steals apiece. The Lady Pups outscored Augusta 10-2 in bench points.
"I thought overall our kids came off the bench and were ready to play whether they were providing defense for us or offense. They came in and did their jobs so I was happy with our bench performance too," Strathman said.
Moving on to the semifinals, McPherson will focus on Labette County, a team that beat out Wellington High School 60-39 in the first round. A player to watch from the Lady Grizzlies' side is Tristian Gregg. Even only making one 3-point attempt, she led the Lady Grizzlies with 27 points over Wellington.
"She's going to get her points regardless. When she's hot, she's really going to score. When she's kind of cold, she's still going to get her points. When she gets to the foul line, she gets the buckets in transition. We have to limit that as much as we can," Strathman said.
The game will be set to play at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Tony's Pizza Event Center in Salina.
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