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MHS Girls Claim 3rd in 28th Annual Mid America Classic, Defeating Clearwater 62-39


By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio


McPHERSON, Kan. – The (10-2) Bullpup Girls were able to return to their brand of basketball Saturday evening, as they took on (7-4) Clearwater, in the consolation game of the 28th Annual Mid America Classic.

After shooting 2/24 from three-point range on Friday, Chloe Clevenger and Karter Alvord quickly matched that in the first quarter giving the Pups a 6-4 lead, in which they never gave up.

The Pups were active defensively, coming up with transition baskets by passing the ball ahead. McPherson Head Coach Chris Strathman was pleased with his team’s number of assists following the game, saying, “I thought we shared the ball real well.” He added, “That’s got to be the season by far, twenty-three baskets on eighteen assists is very good.”

“I’d say the big difference is just the ability to knock hit shots today.” said Strathman, after his team went 10/23 from beyond the arc. The Pups would take a 15-6 after Alex Romero made her wait into the scoring column, and ended the night with a career high seven points off the bench going 3/3 from the field. Strathman later talked about her contribution, as well as the other seven points that came from the bench tonight. 

He also talked about the struggles from behind the arc in the previous two games of the tournament, and said, “It’s a little easier to shoot, we all understand that when there’s a little less pressure. There’s less pressure in the third place game than there is in the semifinal game versus St. James last night so, I know that played into our hands a little bit to shoot the ball better, but also we were kind of due.” At the half, the Pups would lead 28-12, after shooting over 50% from downtown, and holding the Indians to six points in back-to-back quarters.

In the third quarter it was an intriguing matchup between Chloe Clevenger and Clearwater’s Carli Carlson, who will be joining Jordan Sears next season at Newman University. The two would exchange baskets, and exchange words, when stopping the other, but for the second ever matchup between the two, Clevenger would have the last laugh, finishing the game with 20 points and 7 boards. 

“Those two pretty much canceled each other out for the most part,” said Strathman, “and for Chloe, four of six from three, eight of twelve from the floor, she was finishing plays, she was also creating for others, as the assistant number show with seven,” Strathman mentioned that one thing he looks for out of his point guard is turnovers, and he was proud of Clevenger, who just had one on Saturday. That’s a really complete game for Chloe, I would say that that’s one of the best that she’s had here at McPherson,” said Strathman, also recalling another impressive performance coming from Clevenger during the Andover game earlier in the season.

Going into the fourth, the Pups were in control leading 46-28. Coach Strathman was able to empty his bench, and get everyone experience claiming third place in the 28th Annual Mid America Classic, following a 62-39 win, and moving to 11-2 overall on the season.

“When you get to the semifinals of the Mid America Classic, you know you’re going to get to play two really good teams, and so we played a terrific St. James team, and really, really good Clearwater team, that we just happened to shoot the ball better than them today.”

I thought we had some contributions today off the bench that hopefully will give those kids confidence, because we’re going to need those contributions, not next Tuesday, but the following Tuesday, we’re going to have a tough game with Hays, that should be our toughest game remaining on the schedule, then we have our league games, but our bench needs to get some confidence, and we need to keep giving them minutes to build that confidence because they’re key players on our team, and they can definitely contribute for us in the postseason.”

“Jaela McLeod played well off the bench,” said Strathman, mentioning her ability as a track athlete to glide down the court, as she added five points and four rebounds to the Bullpup total in Saturday’s win. 

Following the game, Strathman talked about his former player Taylor Robertson, who set the all-time NCAA record on Saturday, as part of the Oklahoma Women’s Basketball team, he said, “Very proud of Taylor,” he mentioned multiple people that had reached out to make sure he knew, “to have the All-Time Division I leading three-point shooter that played here as a youth, and obviously in our program and had a great career here, that is quite a deal.” Strathman was hoping all season that she would be able to achieve the record in less games than the previous record holder, “It got closer than I thought it was going to,” he talked about it taking less attempts, and Robertson shooting a higher percentage to help her achieve the incredible honor.

Strathman thanked the staff, administration, and members of the Optimist Club, who helped put on the tournament and competitions throughout the tournament, as Jordan Sears won the three-point competition, and Chloe Clevenger, who won the free-throw competition Saturday morning. “It was a fun morning, and a good weekend to finish with two wins, and hopefully that will propel us to a really strong February, and hopefully a really successful March too.” 

Coach Strathman concluded by saying, “I love our team. I think if we stick together, keep working hard we can do some really special things in March, and that’s talking the last weekend of March too. I like our chances as long as we keep working, health obviously will play a big factor in that, but I really like our chances with this group.”

The Bullpup Girls and Boys will return to action Friday, when they travel to take on Wichita Collegiate. The Girls will tip at 6 p.m. The Boys will follow at 7:30.