DERBY — Peyton Howard’s basket off an assist by Ella Schmid with 4.8 seconds left in the game Thursday gave the McPherson seventh-grade girls the championship of the Pioneer League Tournament with a heart-stopping 29-27 victory over Salina Lakewood.
The Bullpups had entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed, but knocked off No. 1 Hutchinson and No. 2 Lakewood in the final two games. MMS finished the year 13-3.
Howard was the leading scorer with 9 points.
“I am so proud of the fight and effort of these girls,” MMS coach Jacque Gehrt said. “They have really come together as a team and have left everything on the court. Tonight's game was another example of the never-give-up attitude they have developed.”
Gehrt said the team had to muster one last comeback. It had trailed 12-6 in a low-scoring first half.
“We were down by five to start the fourth quarter and scored six straight to take a one-point lead,” she said. “From that point on the lead went back and forth. We were tied at 27 and scored off a beautiful pass under the basket from Ella Schmid to Peyton Howard for the final basket with 4.8 seconds left. The heart these girls have shown over the course of the last three games has been incredible.”
The team was at its best late in games.
“In the tournament, we faced the three teams that beat us and have outscored our opponents 38-9 in the fourth quarter,” Gehrt said. “That shows how much pride the girls have and their will to win. I look forward to watching these girls grow over the next year and in high school. A big thanks to the parents, family members, and community for showing up and supporting our teams this season. Another thanks goes to coach (TJ) Jackson for coming on board as a coach this year and being a great asset to our team.”
MMS (29) — Howard 9, Schmid 8, Labetew 6, Whorton 6.