ANDALE— Free throws are crucial in high school basketball. One missed free throw shot could decide the game, and that's what happened on Friday night as the McPherson High School boys basketball team found a way to disrupt Andale High School's homecoming night with a 42-41 win.
The Bullpups overcame a lot of challenges at Andale. The court was slippery, the gym was warm and they had another tough task against the big and physical Indians team.
"We had to find a way to be as tough as they were, and we had smaller guys who just found a way to be tougher," Bullpups Head Coach Kurt Kinnamon said.
Cody Stufflebean has been challenged inside the paint as he had to go one-on-one against KU commit, Mason Fairchild. Both went back-and-forth in exchanging baskets and manhandling each other in the inside. Andale led as high six points in the first half, but the Bullpups continued keep it a tight ball game. The Bullpups were able to tie it up, 23 apiece after Max Alexander made a layup and a foul basket. The Bullpups trailed 26-23 at halftime.
The Bullpups started the third quarter on a 5-0 run, while Andale, made some open look three-pointers, but missed all four attempts. As a matter fact, the Indians had not made any three-pointers all night as they were 0-for-12 from behind the arc. The Bullpups held their first lead of the night, 28-26, after reaching the 4:36 mark. Alexander followed up with a jumper that gave the Bullpups their first two-possession lead, 30-26. It was low-scoring third quarter due to the foul troubles and turnovers from each side. Three minutes went by in the fourth, and the Bullpup led 34-30. McPherson needed to hold on and take care of the ball, which they did. Fairchild scored for the Indians to have them trail 34-32 after reaching the four-minute mark.
While the Bullpups continued to hold possession by killing the clock, the Indians relied on their pressured defense to catch up to McPherson. After Jace Kinnamon made a wide-open layup, the Indians responded back with a jumper by Easton Hunter to keep a two-point game, having McPherson up 40-38 with less than a minute left. Stufflebean was fouled and put to the free throw line but missed one.
Up 41-38, Hunter returned back to the free throw line and made both his free throw shots for the Indians to be down 41-40. The Bullpups took care of the basketball without forcing any turnovers late in the fourth. Alexander was fouled and put in the free throw line where he made one, but missed his second attempt. With 3.1 seconds, Hunter once again was back on the free throw line, where he made his seven-straight free throws. However, after a timeout by Kinnamon, Hunter missed his second free show shot, Jake Alexander tipped the ball and Seth Madron rebounded the ball to close out the game.
Jake Alexander led the Bullpups with 14 points for the McPherson. Stufflebean, who made some key passed to Alexander from inside, tied with Alexander with 10 points apiece. However, Stufflebean produced a double-double with 12 rebounds.
"We're starting to share the ball more, and getting a lot more layups, come through the zone, it started work out pretty good," Stufflebean said.
The Bullpups improved to 10-5 of the season. Next game for McPherson is that they will be back on the road to take on El Dorado High School on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com on Twitter @Petes_Picks_