For the second year in a row, the trophy will stay in McPherson as the McPherson High School girls basketball defeated the No.1 seed and previously undefeated Olathe South High School 49-37 championship round of the Mid America Classic.
The Bullpups were down one player when Maggie Leaf was out due to a shoulder sprain injury, and at the last minute, Cassie Cooks, who started 18 games last season, had to step in as the starter for Leaf. It was a challenge for her as she has to defend The Falcons' top player Dani Winslow.
"I was really proud of our focus. I challenged them before the game to make up for Maggie's effort, leadership and intensity that she brings to our team," Bullpups Head Coach Chris Strathman said.
Riley Hett set the tone for the Lady Pups, shooting two corner 3-pointers. The defense was strong for the Lady Pups, creating turnovers and scoring through transition. Winslow, alreadyin foul-trouble with three, had to sit out four minutes into the first quarter. Bullpups led the Falcons 21-8, shooting 50 percent from the basket.
"I thought the girls were sharp and aggressive offensively," Strathman said. "I'm not going to say we always take great shots, but we were aggressive at least, and I was pleased with that."
McPherson continued to wear down the Falcons defensively. The Lady Pups outrebounded the Falcons 22-12. They have been playing fast paced and has been in transition for most of the game. The Lady Falcons were down in double-digit, but they slowly tried to catch up to McPherson. The Bullpups missed eight straight 3-pointers, and the Falcons went on an 8-2 run, only trailing 31-18 Andrea Sweat made a perimeter shot to end the second quarter. Grace Pyle has been relentless on the floor, leading McPherson with nine points and seven rebounds in the first half.
"I thought our focus on the defensive end was really good," Strathman said. "We had a plan of four possible adjustments that we would do if we're not guarding our sets well at all. We never made any defensive changes because we had to. It's because we wanted to."
The Lady Falcons were far from out of the game as they went on a 7-2 run in the third quarter. Carolina Harshbarger shot a corner-three to only trail 33-28, and just like that, the Falcons overcame a 13-point deficit. Hett responded back by making her three-pointer. McPherson was up 39-29 at the end of the third.
The Bullpups continued to hold on defensively and kill the clock with a 47-32 with 3:36 left. 2:04 minutes left, the Lady Pups were up 47-35. The Bullpups continued to milk the clock and make their free throws to close out the game. The Lady Pups shot 16-for-22 at the free throw line. Lakyn Schiefereke, who won this year's free throw contest, made all her free throws (8-for-8) to help close out the game. She also led the Bullpups with 13 points. Pyle was the second leading scorer with 11 points, and one rebound shy of a double-double with nine.
The Bullpups overcame the challenges in the tournament and has now made their case that they could go toe-to-toe against any schools in the state.
"We had three different types of game in three nights, and thats good to play different types of opponents and see those things. I'm just pleased on how they responded," Strathman said.
The Bullpups will return to the Roundhouse on Tuesday as they host Wichita Collegiate High School on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Schieferecke and Pyle earned All-tournament honors
During the ceremony, Schieferecke and Pyle made the All-Tournament team after their strong performance. Winslow also joined the two Lady Pups, along with Haleigh Harper of Manhattan High School and Madison Haney of Ulysses High School.
Wellington High School was awarded the John Watkins Sportsmanship Award. Schieferecke was also recognized for winning the free throw contest after going head-to-head against her fellow teammate Andrea Sweat. Both went to sudden death when they shot 29-of-35 free throws.
In the 3-point contest, Manhattan's Harper took the crown after beating out Camree Johnson of Dodge City.
Final Standings in the Mid America Classic
2. Olathe South
5. Wichita Southeast
8, Dodge City
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