This seemed like the best chance ever for McPherson High’s girls to finally knock off Olathe South, who must feel like the Roundhouse is their second home.
The Bullpups led the Falcons — who have won four Mid America Classic titles in as many tries — 21-18 at the half.
But once the Falcons figured out how to slow down Taylor Robertson, the Bullpups were sunk and it was their fifth loss against them in as many tries.
MHS went the entire third quarter without scoring, while the Falcons were putting up 13 and that paucity of 'Pup points led to a 46-37 loss in a game that was no-holds-barred as physical play ruled the night.
"That (third quarter) pretty well decided the game," said MHS coach Chris Strathman, as the Bullpups will go another year without winning the title as the last one came in 2012. "When you put up a donut in an entire quarter that's going to be pretty hard to bounce back from. Outside of that quarter, it's not like we quit competing in the third quarter, we just couldn't get anything going offensively. And credit them on the defensive end for pushing us out of our comfort zone."
Olathe South, the No. 3 team in Class 6A, will take on the team just ahead of them in the rankings and the seedings here, Manhattan, at 7:15 p.m. Saturday for the championship.
The Falcons are 8-1 and the Indians are 10-0 in what could possibly be a forerunner to a Class 6A state semifinal or championship game.
MHS, which fell to 10-3, will try to regroup in the 5:30 third-place game against Valley Center.
It didn’t look good for the Bullpups early as the Falcons got off to an 11-5 start, but Robertson brought them back. Her 3-pointer gave MHS a 12-11 lead and the Bullpups were able to keep that slim advantage most of the quarter and eventually edged ahead 21-18 at the half as Robertson scored 15 points.
The Bullpups held the Falcons to just 8 of 23 from the field in the half and didn’t allow touted South point guard Makayla Gooch to control the game as she did on Thursday in the easy win over Dodge City. Also, the Bullpups battled the taller Falcons to a standoff on the boards as both teams had 15 rebounds. The negative for MHS was the one player with height, Mandi Cooks, picked up three fouls.
But the Falcons came out quickly to start the second half as the MHS lead vanished in a heartbeat. Stunningly, MHS missed every shot in the quarter and committed seven fouls, including Cooks’ fourth. Gooch started to work her magic and created some easy baskets, but the 31-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter seemed like 20 given the offensive woes that plagued the Bullpups.
Robertson ended the Bullpups’ scoring drought 49 seconds into the fourth quarter. She was the only Bullpup who could get free for shots and finished with 23 points. Cooks scored 8, but only two other MHS players scored. The Bullpups were just 9 of 39 for 23 percent — 3 of 20 in the second half.
South had nice balance as Kara Griswold scored 14 points, Gooch had 12 and DejaNae Roebuck added 10.
MHS (37) — E. Yowell 0-3, 0-0, 0; Hett 0-3, 0-0, 0; Robertson 4-11, 11-12, 23; Bruner 1-5, 0-2, 2; Cooks 3-12, 2-4, 8; C. Yowell 0-1, 0-0, 0; Hageman 0-2, 0-0, 0; Schieferecke 1-2, 2-2, 4; Leaf 0-0, 0-0, 0. Totals — 9-39, 15-20, 37. 3-pointers — Robertson 4.
Olathe South (46) — Butaud 2-5, 0-2, 5; Gooch 3-7, 5-9, 12; Griswold 3-4, 7-8, 14; Roebuck 4-12, 1-6, 10; Bartels 2-3, 1-2, 5; Reed 0-2, 0-0, 0; Winslow 0-3, 0-2, 0. Totals — 14-36, 14-29, 46. 3-pointers — Butaud 1, Gooch 1, Griswold 1, Roebuck 1.