To say the crowd at the McPherson High Roundhouse was experiencing some deja vu Thursday night would be an understatement.
To say the crowd at the McPherson High Roundhouse was experiencing some deja vu Thursday night would be an understatement. A week after the MHS boys were stunned in the opening round of the McPherson Invitational, the Lady Bullpups found themselves in a similar position in the first quarter. McPherson coach Chris Strathman and a packed Roundhouse could only watch as not only would their own shots not fall, but Gardner-Edgerton shot much better than anyone expected coming into Thursday’s opening round match up. The Trailblazers led the Bullpups 8-2 coming down towards the end of the first quarter, shocking the Bullpup faithful. Janae Barnes, however, stepped up and buried a three as the buzzer sounded that not only served to cut the lead to three, but also to shake the nerves loose and get the Bullpups refocused on their way to a knock-down, drag-out 52-46 win. “We were a little tight and maybe some of that had to do with what happened last week,” Strathman said. “I did mention before the game that we needed to take care of business, we want to be playing in the late game tomorrow night. And we were able to make that happen.” MHS (7-4) visibly relaxed on the court following Barnes’, which allowed Abby Pedersen to begin to take over the game. Pedersen was instrumental in keeping the Trailblazers from running away with the game in the third quarter, where a 7-0 run left them in control of the scoreboard by five points. Pedersen unloaded for 12 points in the quarter, including a three at the buzzer, much like Barnes’ in the first, that gave McPherson a 38-31 lead going into the final frame. Pedersen, who committed to play for Tabor College on Monday, finished the game with 25 points on 6-for-15 shooting, including 3-of-9 from three-point range, and put up a a 10-for-11 mark at the foul line. “She came up big,” Strathman said of his senior sharpshooter. “It’s not often you see a game end the first three quarters with three pointers at the buzzer. That’s bizarre.” Aside from Barnes’ and Pedersen’s shots, Gardner’s Abbey Bilhimer ended the second quarter with a buzzer three that cut a McPherson lead to 20-19 at the intermission. The Trailblazers (4-7) tried to make things interesting down the stretch, as a Lindsey Plank three cut a six-point McPherson lead in half. Angeliece Tucker then made it a one-possession game with 39 seconds on the clock and McPherson up 48-46. Barnes and Pedersen, again, proved to be the difference makers, however, as the senior duo went 4-for-4 at the foul line in the final 30 seconds to push the lead out beyond the reach of Gardner-Edgerton and send McPherson into the semifinals tonight against Andale. “The kids had to battle tonight,” Strathman said. “Gardner really competed very well with their young kids. Their young kids have a lot of potential. Sometimes midseason tournaments are when those type of kids start to put it together and they kind of did tonight.” MHS was only 13-for-36 from the field Thursday, but were 20-for-32 at the foul line. Gardner, meanwhile, only found the charity stripe 11 times, making seven of their foul shots. Strathman and the Bullpups should have their hands full tonight with an Andale team that made history against Olathe East Thursday, as they won the first-ever double-overtime game in Mid America Classic history. Of particular concern for Strathman is Indian point guard Brittany Meyer. “She’s just an awfully skilled player,” Strathman said. “Shoots over 90 percent from the line so you can’t put her there. She can shoot it from deep. [Lauren] Rowland girl is just hyper-aggressive offensively. She just puts her head down and goes. She either gets to the basket usually or she draws contact. She’s just very aggressive. So those will be the two keys for us to stop.” Tip off for the Lady Bullpups and the Indians will be at approximately 7:30 p.m. Gardner-Edgerton will face Olathe East in the consolation bracket at 4:30 p.m. Contact Chris Swick by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.