Bullpup girls open Classic play Thursday

By Steve Sell
January 27, 2016
Kendall Shaw

It’s a familiar story.

Top-seed McPherson High against a No. 8 seed.

Just like the boys’ tournament last week, the McPherson High girls enter Thursday’s Mid America Classic as the team to beat, while opponent Shawnee Mission South comes to town with everything to gain and nothing to lose.

The game will be the fourth of the day, set for a 7:30 p.m. start. There’s a new champion assured as Olathe South is not back this year to defend after defeating the Bullpups in last year’s title game. The Falcons return next season.

The Bullpups steam into the tourney 10-0, while South is 2-8, but all MHS coach Chris Strathman had to see was how the boys needed double-overtime last week to escape from No. 8 seed Shawnee Mission East.

“We have a lot to be concerned about when it comes to our match-up with Shawnee Mission South,” Strathman said. “Similar to the boys’ first round as it is a 1-8 matchup, but they do have some weapons. They have just played a really tough schedule with all of their 6A KC schools. We will have to be prepared and not assume anything.”

The Bullpups have not played since defeating Andale last Tuesday, so it’s been a long time between games. It has helped, however, Mandi Cooks recover from a blow to the head that she took in that game. It happened in the first half and she did not return. She is expected to be in the lineup for the opener.

In other first-round games, Olathe East (8-1) takes on Hays (4-6) at 3 p.m., Manhattan (8-2) is matched against Andale (3-6) at 4:30 and Shawnee Mission Northwest (8-2) tangles with Wichita Northwest (6-4) at 6.

“I would expect the other top seeds to advance in their match-ups,” Strathman said. “If that were to happen and we all advance, I think that could make for the most difficult day of semifinal match-ups that we have had for quite some time in the MAC. There are some other quality teams though that may have something to say about that even happening.”

The McPherson Optimist Club is the tournament sponsor and oversees the running of the event, which is in its 21st year.