FORT RILEY – Like much of the regular season, the McPherson Middle School seventh grade boys basketball ‘A’ team dominated their opponents on Saturday as they scored a championship victory at the Fort Riley Basketball Invitational, while the seventh-grade ‘B’ team split a pair of games to finish third in the ‘B’ tournament.

With the two victories, the seventh-grade ‘A’ team closed out the 2018-19 season with a glittering 15-1 record.

In the opening game of the day, the seventh-grade Junior Pups ‘A’ team rolled over Wamego 42-15 led by Owen Pyle scoring 11 points while Javyn Alexander hit for eight.

The victory set up a matchup in the championship game with Junction City for whom the Junior Pups promptly blew off the court with a 53-14 victory. Jayce Schriner led the team in scoring with 12 while Kreighton Kanitz also hit for double digits with 10 as nine players put points in the scorebook.

“It was eight quarters of basketball on Saturday,” noted seventh-grade ‘A’ team Head Coach Eric Burghart. “I am so proud to be a part of this team and watch these guys work their tails off game in and game out. The goal was not to come and win two games on Saturday, the goal was to come out and play our best basketball regardless of any outside factors and winning would be a byproduct of that. When this team controls what they can control, great things happen.”

Coach Burghart concluded his post-game reflections by referencing the other factors saying, “After 90-percent of the games this year I have had an opposing parent, coach or an official come tell me they love how that player plays and I genuinely have to ask them which one. It’s been a different player almost every time and that’s what I love about this group is that they are so selfless. They look to create to find a teammate an open shot; they rebound so that they can pitch it ahead and we can score in transition. With all that being said, no banners were ever hung for a good seventh-grade season and I want to thank these players unbelievable support behind them from parents and guardians, former coaches and friends and I know they won’t allow these boys to take their foot off the gas.”

In a few comments about the season overall, Coach Burghart pointed out, “I also have to thank Coach Grant Barrett as my son was born on Wednesday and he shouldered the load of three days of practice and had these guys ready to play. Coach Barrett had a fantastic year and helped every single player grow. He has an amazing knack for teaching the skills of basketball to all different levels of players. A final thanks to my wife for allowing me the late nights away from home. This season hasn’t been easy on her and her sacrifice does not go unnoticed.”

As for the seventh-grade ‘B’ team, they suffered a heartbreaking three-point, 25-22 loss to Wamgo in their opening game before routing Clay Center 45-16 in their second game to finish third for the ‘B’ tournament. For the season the ‘B’ team finished 4-7 overall.

In the three-point loss to Wamego, Henry Boese led the offense with nine points, while during the blowout win over Clay Center Boese again hit for double digits with 10 though Owen Fetsch led the team with 13. Eight players put points on the scoreboard for the Junior Pups in the third-place game.

“The guys did a great job from the warmups of making sure they had a lot of energy after an early morning bus ride,” commented ‘B’ team Coach Grant Barrett in his post-tournament reflections. “In game one it was back and forth in the first half as the size of Wamego was something we weren’t expecting but we did a good job of limiting their second chance points and keeping them off the glass. Unfortunately, a scoreless third quarter put us in a bit of a hole for the fourth quarter, but I was proud of the way that we battled back defensively and were inches away from overtime.”

Coach Barrett finished his reflections talking about the third-place game, noting, “After about a thirty-minute break, the guys picked up where they left off in the first game and were on the floor and in the passing lanes which led to easy layups all second game. It seemed like they were playing with a chip on their shoulder knowing they were so close to the championship game. Looking at the scorebook it was a complete team effort in both games. These guys made leaps and bounds this season and I’m happy we played our best two games at the end.”

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