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McPherson Girls Prepare for Second Contest with St. James, after Defeating Valley Center 47-27, in 28th Annual MAC Quarterfinals

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By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio

 

McPHERSON, Kan. – After eight days in between games, the (9-1) McPherson High Girls Basketball team returned to the Roundhouse on Thursday, as the top seed in the 28th Annual Mid America Classic. The Pups opened the tournament taking on the eighth-seeded (3-6) Valley Center Hornets.

The Hornets would collect the first basket, before Jordan Sears got the Bullpups on the scoreboard, then a quick steal out of the full court press lead to a Chloe Clevenger layup. But in a low-scoring first quarter, the Pups shot just 2/11 from the field, and Valley Center led 7-6.

“It was played at the type of style that Valley Center needed it to be.” said McPherson Head Coach Chris Strathman following the game, “It was a little bit ugly, their zone was bothering us a little bit, and we weren’t finishing plays inside either. So, fortunately, finally in the second quarter, we got some transition buckets, we’re able to get back into our press right away and string some baskets together that way, but our execution against zone’s got to be better,” Strathman added, “also at certain times against zone, it always looks better if threes are going in, and they weren’t going in tonight, and those things happen.”

McPherson was able to shake some of that rust off in the second quarter, and after being out of game-action for over a week, they would open the period on a 12-0 run, forcing 10 turnovers in the quarter highlighted by a phenomenal baseball pass from Sears, Clevenger in stride from ¾ court, as the Pups would later go into the half leading by 11.

However, that lead could have been more, and after a number of missed opportunities around the basket, Bullpups Head Coach Chris Strathman said. “We’ve got to do a better job of finishing plays around the basket,” he said, “we had multiple times of offensive boards and put back attempts that we just, you know, ‘crotched’ it right between the rim and the backboard, and just stuck it there basically. So, we’ve got to do a better job of finishing around people, and we didn’t do that very well tonight.”

Madi Moors got the Bullpups in the scoring column out of the half, knocking down a corner three to make it 21-9, but Valley Center would answer quickly on the other end, and continued to make it difficult for the Bullpups when they were able to set up their zone defense. The MHS defense wasn’t able to force as many turnovers in the second half, but they did find themselves converting more of their opportunities around the rim.

After taking a 33-22 lead into the fourth, Jordan Sears continued her stellar night finishing through contact on the first play of the final period, and although the missed free throw, Alexis Dukes was there for the putback, giving the Pups a 38-22 lead.

Alex Romero would knock down the Pups’ second three of the game, and gave McPherson their last points of the night, as Strathman was able to empty his bench and prepare for the next round after defeating Valley Center 47-27, to move to 10-1 on the season.

“I was happy, and I mentioned after the game that we only had seven turnovers, plus the 14 offensive boards, that allows you 17 more shot attempts at the basket than what they did.” said Strathman, while looking at the post game stat sheet. “Even when you don’t shoot the ball real well, that’s going to give you a really good chance to win.”

“We didn’t do a very good job defending cuts, and we work on that all the time. We had multiple people get face-cut for a couple of easy baskets and that shouldn’t happen with the way we play defense, the way we’re supposed to play defense.” Strathman said, correcting himself.

When asked what the preparation is for facing St. James for the second time this season, Coach Strathman said, “Fortunately we do that a lot of times in league-play.” he said laughing, but added, “St. James is a different animal, they are a really good team, we played very, very well up at Shawnee Mission Northwest to beat them right before Christmas. That was the game that Jordan had 36, I’m going to guess they’ll to do a better job of guarding Jordan this time, we’ll have to do a better job of guarding (Riley) Bruggeman this time, she’s a really good player, hit some threes on us, got to the basket at will, and she’s deadly in transition.”

McPherson defeated St. James 69-61, in the Pups final game of the 2022 portion of the season, and Friday’s Semifinal contest from the Roundhouse is slated for 8:15.

Grant Barrett will be joined alongside Steve Sell, and MHS Boys Head Basketball Coach Kurt Kinnamon, for the Midway Motors Drive to the Game at 7:45 p.m. on 98.9 FM KMCP. Steaming is also available online at adastraradio.com and the Ad Astra Radio App.

Notable Stats:
J. Sears 18 pts, 8 reb, 3 blk, 2 stl
C. Clevenger 12 pts, 3 stl, 2 blk, 2 ast
K. Alvord 6 pts, 4 reb, 2 stl, 2 ast
A. Dukes 9 reb, 5 pts, 3 ast, 2 stl
M. Moors 3 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast
Al. Romero 3 pts, 1 ast, 1 reb
J. McLeod 1 reb, 1 ast
E. Bower 1 ast, 1 stl
R. Eilrich 1 reb
Av. Romero 1 stl

MAC Quarterfinal Scores and Schedule:
Thursday
Clearwater def. Dodge City 49-38
Wichita Southeast def. Olathe South 62-57
St. James def. Manhattan 64-31

Friday
3:00 Olathe South vs Dodge City
4:45 Valley Center vs Manhattan
6:30 Wichita SE vs Clearwater
8:15 McPherson vs St. James Academy

 

Photos By Kendall Shaw

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