McPherson girls dominate Newton in season opener

Peter Holland Jr.
McPherson's Peyton Howard (12) shoots the basketball during their game against Newton Tuesday night. McPherson defeated Newton 59-20.

McPHERSON — Even when the pandemic postponed their season opener against Andover last week, the McPherson High School girls basketball team still hasn't missed a beat as they steamrolled Newton High School on Tuesday night at the Roundhouse.

"We were excited to get out here and play," MHS head coach Chris Strathman said. “There are no fans except some students and some administrators and things like that, but boy it's good to play the game."

It took less than two minutes left for the Lady Railers to make their first basket, which was a jumper by Abigail Koontz, while McPherson went on a 15-0 run.

Usually, the Bullpups will look for an open 3-point shot, and surprisingly McPherson made one 3-pointer in the first half.

It didn’ tmatter as the Bullpups kept passing the ball well and finding their new starting center, Peyton Howard. Howard went 6 for 6 from the field and led the Bullpups with 14 points.

Completely one-sided, McPherson led Newton 44-5 at halftime.

"I thought they set the tone pretty well for us," Strathman said. “In the first half we weren't 100 percent sharpened, but we were still up 44-5 or whatever it was. In the second half, we let our focus go too much, especially late in the third quarter and early fourth. We had way too many turnovers and things like that but those are the things we have to learn from because I told the kids after the game that there will probably be few other games that are similar to this as far as margin and you got to play through it. We got to do a better job with that."

For the Railers, despite being far behind, they went out swinging, continuing to play aggressively in the second half.

"They never stopped giving up. My girls played hard and that's what we're going to be known for," Newton head coach Tavis Leake said. "We're going to play hard until the final buzzer rings."

The Railers were led by Lexi Valle-Ponds, who dropped 12 points - all in the second half. After inadvertently getting fouled in the face, she was taken out of the game, but the moment she returned, she went straight to work. Newton outscored McPherson 12-3 in the fourth quarter.

"I think it fired her up more," Leake said. "That's the thing about our girls. If you put us down, we come right back up and that's what we teach every single day." "So when Lexi gets hit, she comes off the court begging me to go back in. She goes back in and performed. Hopefully next time we don't have to bump her up to get that out of her. We can do it without doing that."

Kassidy Beam was McPherson's top scorer with 17 points and added six assists. Grace Pyle dropped 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals. Karter Alvord made her varsity debut as a freshman and collected four points and three steals.

The Bullpup girls will have their make-up game at Andover High School on Saturday at 3 p.m, while the Lady Railers will host Hutchinson High School next Tuesday at 6 p.m

McPherson's Lauren Labertew (2) drives past the reach of Newton's Camryn Entz (31) during their game Tuesday night. McPherson defeated Newton 59-20.