The McPherson High School girls basketball team went in as the top seed for the 24th annual Mid America Classic. The Bullpups showed why they are top-ranked after routing the No. 8 seed Shawnee Mission South Raiders 59-40, and will move on to the next round.
The Lady Pups started with both strong offense and defense right off the bat. According to head coach Chris Strathman, their energy factored into their dominance.
“I felt like we really had a good start obviously,” Strathman said. “We set the tone really early with good pressure and also making shots, that always make things look good. We typically start very well in the tournament. The girls are always excited to play in it obviously. I thought the energy was good.
Defense played an immediate role in their victory. With the Pups outscoring the Raiders in each of the first three quarters, the top seeded team managed to keep the Raiders from scoring in double figures during each quarter.
The Raiders are known for relying on scoring in the paint and creating fouls — the team averages 25 free throws per attempt in a game. The Lady Pups avoided fouling them all night and were able to have the No. 8 seeded team settled for only eight free throw attempts. For Strathman, it was the focal point for McPherson defensively.
“Their big thing is attacking and getting into the foul line,” Strathman said. “That’s part of what they do that they could never do consistently. That was big for us.”
One of biggest moments happened in the first quarter when senior Taylor Robertson, who scored 17 points, broke the school record for all-time leading scorer with 1,610 points. The new record tops former McPherson great Ashley Sweat’s 1,593 points. With an achievement like that, it was only right to call timeout so the Oklahoma commit could take a bow and let the moment sink it before going back on the court.
With the Lady Pups holding a strong lead the entire night, the intensity may not be the same as the first half, yet Strathman was able let the starters rest up for Friday’s game when they take on Olathe South Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
“We didn’t maintain the energy as well I would like in the second half, Strathman said. “But we also wanted to get everybody in and rest have the chance for some people too.”
Here are the final scores of Thursday’s games:
— Manhattan (7-1) defeated Shawnee Mission Northwest 6-3) 41-40 OT
— Wichita (5-5) defeated Hayes (8-1) 47-27
— Olathe South (7-2) defeated Ulysses 37-22
— McPherson (9-1) defeated Shawnee Mission South (4-4) 59-40
Coming up on Friday:
— Hays vs. Shawnee Mission Northwest at 3 p.m.
— Wichita Northwest vs. Manhattan at 6 p.m.
— Shawnee Mission South vs. Ulysses at 4:30 p.m.
— McPherson vs. Olathe South at 7:30 p.m.