MCPHERSON, KANSAS —There was no questions that defense was the key component on Friday night. However, the McPherson High School girls basketball had the edge and defeated Circle High School, 65-43. The Bullpups improve to 18-1 on the season and remains undefeated in league play. Circle drops to 15-3 on the season with one game left.

Emma Ruddle, Grace Pyle and Cassie Cooks each tied for 10 points. Pyle and Cooks also tied for seven rebounds. Pyle added three blocks.

No one from Circle finished in double figures. Mallory Cowman was on the verge of a double-double performance. After a strong first half when she scored eight points and six rebounds, she was held without making a basket and finished the night with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

Kimalee Cooks was scoreless the whole game as she was 0 for 9 from the field. The Lady T-Birds struggled to make its shots from behind the three-point line as they went 0 for 7 in the first half. It was later in the third quarter when Circle shot its first three-pointer of night and was 3 for 16 the whole game.

"We felt going into halftime we shot horrible in the first half," Circle's Head Coach Brian Henry said. "We had some good inside looks but we couldn't make a basket from the outside. "We got some outside shots to fly in the second half. That kind of helped us get start on runs. We were able to get some transition baskets."

Circle was not completely out of it early in the third quarter. The Thunderbirds trailed as close as five points. With 1:41 left, Pyle knocked a three-point basket for the Bullpups receive a 10-point lead.

The Bullpups had their highest lead of the night until Lana Chase knocked a three pointer to keep in single-digit game with McPherson still ahead 41-32 with 3:53 left the fourth quarter. Pyle made one more three-point basket to close the deal on the Lady T-Birds.

"I felt that tonight we gave tremendous effort throughout. I think we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit and some of it was McPherson being just a great defensive team," Henry said. "We missed some open opportunities I felt that we had. You get three of those to go and all of sudden it's a closer game. We also had a half dozen turnovers that we probably shouldn't have. If we could clean that stuff of it, it's a game that we can definitely be right there. They are one of the top teams in the state so we're proud of our girls for continuing to fight and stay with it."

In the season finale before the start of sub-state, the Lady Pups will complete their season at Augusta High School next Tuesday at 6 p.m.

While Circle has two more games left and will host Winfield High School on Tuesday then travels to Buhler next Thursday.

Circle 8; 7; 12; 8 -- 35

McPherson 12; 11; 14; 9 -- 43

Circle: Cowman 9, Chase 8, Michaelis 8, Claycamp 7, Stephens 3

McPherson: Pyle 10, Cooks 10, Ruddle 10, Beam 7, Schieferecke 4, Howard 4, Malm 1