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MHS Girls Return to State for 8th Straight Season

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By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio

 

McPHERSON, Kan. – For the third straight season, the McPherson High Boys and Girls are returning to the Class 4A State Tournament. Saturday evening, the Bullpup Girls defeated Rock Creek 74-40, to punch their ticket to Salina for the 8th straight season, and returning to the state tournament for the 28th time in the last 31 years.

It was a career night for junior Jayla McLeod, who began the season coming off of the bench, and has now developed into a key piece for MHS. She finished the game with 15 points on 7/8 from the field, she also added 11 rebounds, 7 of which, came from the offensive end, she also led the team with four steals. “She just doesn’t take any bad shots,” said Head Coach Chris Strathman regarding McLeod’s performance following the game. “She takes what comes to her, she was finishing plays. We talked a lot about getting our team extra possessions and that’s getting the job done.”

Both teams got off to a hot start, alternating baskets on their first two possessions, before Alexis Dukes drained the first three for the Bullpups, forcing Rock Creek to call a timeout trailing 9-4, after a 7-2 run. The Pups would lead 19-11 after a quarter, before Jordan Sears would collect 10 points in the second quarter alone, including a handful of incredible finishes around the rim, as the Pups would extend their lead to 37-23 at the half. 

Strathman didn’t need to mention the second-half comeback that Rock Creek mounted a season ago, when the two met in St. George for the sub-state championship, he emphasized, “We focused on what we needed to do today,” he mentioned there were a few things that the Mustangs did differently that they weren’t expecting. 

The third quarter was a three-point barrage for the Bullpups, led by Sears, who began the quarter, hitting from downtown, then finishing through contact for three points the ‘old-fashioned’ way, on her way to 28-points. Ava Romero, and Madi Moors also poured in baskets from beyond the arc in the quarter, as the Pups would go into the fourth leading 60-35.

“You want to be playing your best ball at the end of the season, and I’m not sure we’ve played a better game this year than what we played just now,” said Coach Strathman following the sub-state championship. “Hopefully we can piggyback off that next week with the state tournament. It should be a lot of fun. Hats off to our kids tonight. They played great tonight.”

It was another great performance from top to bottom, Karter Alvord would collect five of the first eight in the final period, including a basket on a backdoor cut, which put the game into running clock. Strathman immediately called a timeout to get the next unit of girls on the floor, to get the sub-state championship experience. Sophomore Ellie Bower came in firing two from long-range and the Pups would claim their spot in Salina, defeating Rock Creek 74-40. 

Coach Strathman talked about challenging his girls to get on the stat sheet one way, or another, he said, “Ellie was ready to shoot, she’s a really good shooter, and she knocked it down. Of course, she had the biggest smile in the gym, but, just a lot of great kids on our team, very good character kids, and just a lot of fun to be around everyday, and I’m really glad we get to spend another week with them, and hopefully it’s another full week.” he talked about falling in the first round last season to Wellington, and he knows his team will have their work cut out for them if they want to play into Saturday.

Strathman discussed both Mac High Boys and Girls teams reaching the state tournament, saying, “Not very many schools send both teams to state as frequently as we do. We’re pretty spoiled.” He said, “Let’s not take it for granted. It’s a special event every year. He concluded by encouraging the community to make the 30-minute trip next week, saying, “Let’s get out there and support these kids. They’ve worked their tails off to get to Salina again, and they deserve our support. We love our community and we hope to see a lot of red in Salina.”

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