Ulyesses High School girls basketball team came prepared compared to the last time they faced McPherson High School. However, the Bullpups came through down the stretch with a come-from-behind win over the Tigers, 46-43.
Ulysses tried to play McPherson's game and shoot 3-pointers early on in the first quarter, but only made one out of six attempts, Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Lady Pups were making theirs as they hit a 3-point buckets early on.
The Tigers were able to edge out the Bullpups, shooting 8-for-25 from behind the arc.
The Tigers started the second quarter on an 8-0 run to close the gap led by Madison Haney's 3-point basket, giving her six points. Ever since she fell flat and ending up with a chip tooth, she went off with an 18-point performance.
"She was a like a wrecking machine. I think she just got in one of her zones where she was feeling it, and when you get like that, you just got to let them play," Ulysses head coach Tim Hofferber said.
McPherson went cold as they shot 3-for-16 from behind the arc. The Pups also went 7:02 minutes without making a basket until Cassie Cooks broke that drought after nailing her free throws. Shots were not falling for the Lady Pups, but they still managed to keep it a tight game, only trailing 20-19 at the half.
"It was because we weren't getting anything in transition," McPherson head coach Chris Strathman said after the game."We were able to turn the ball over like I thought we be able to, but we were not able to press as well when we're not scoring neither. It all plays together."
McPherson continued to make bad shots, missing 17 in a row. While the Tigers carried their largest lead at 27-20, Strathman made some defensive adjustments when he called a timeout.
"After trailing 27-20, we went back to our half-court trap instead of doing man," Strathman said. "That totally changed the game. Once we got on that run, it was back-and-forth."
The Bullpups went on a 9-0 and finally found their rhythm to regain the lead, but the Tigers didn't quit. Clara Garcia's 3-pointer had the Tigers trailing 31-30. Cristen Edwards's back-to-back shots tied the game, 34-34, with less than a minute left. The quarter ended Haney nailing a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 40-38 lead.
After three minutes without scoring from both teams. A pass from Lakyn Schiefereke to Maggie Leaf tied the game at 40 apiece 5:20 in the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Haney gave the Tigers back the lead after reaching the four-minute mark.
The Bullpups trailed 43-23 with two minutes left. The Tigers went over their foul limits, putting Grace Pyle on the free throw line. Pyle made both her free throws to give the Bullpups a 44-43 lead. McPherson's defensive efforts late and Pyle making four of her five free throws, leading the Bullpups with 13 points, gave the Bullpups their victory.
"Grace (Pyle) did a great job knocking down free throws," Strathman said. "Those were huge. She went up there full of confidence, and that was good to see."
Maggie Leaf led in the rebound categories with eight boards. She was also put on a defensive effort, shutting down Riley Oglevie, who only scored two points.
With little time to rest, both teams will return to the court to complete the 24th annual Mid America Classic. The Bullpups will take on the undefeated Olathe South in the championship.
For the Tigers, they fight for third place against Manhattan High School at 5:p.m.
The Bullpups will take on Olathe South on Saturday in the finals at 7:30 p.m. The Tigers will battle for third place when they take on Manhattan High School at 5:30 p.m.
Final Scores in Mid America Classic
Olathe South 62 Manhattan 21
Wichita-Southeast 69 Dodge City 39
Valley Center 55 Wellington 43
Schedule for Saturday's matchup
Wellington vs Dodge City at 2 p.m. (Battle for 7th place)
Valley Center vs. Wichita-Southeast 4:30 p.m. (Battle for 5th place)
Ulysses vs Manhattan at 5:30 p.m. (Battle for third place)
Olathe South vs McPhrson (Mid America Classic Championship)
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_