TOWANDA — It never gets old.
McPherson High's girls made it 20 league championships in the last 23 years on Tuesday by hanging on for a 56-48 road victory over Circle in a matchup of Top 4 teams in Class 4A Division I.
The third-ranked Bullpups are now 9-0 in Division III and had No. 4 Circle prevailed, the T-Birds would have tied MHS for the top spot but are now 7-2. Circle is 17-2 on the year, both of the losses to the Bullpups.
But all the suspense is now out of the race as the Bullpups had to ride a 32-point game by Taylor Robertson to improve to 16-3 on the year. Not only did Robertson knock down 6 3-pointers, she was 10 of 11 at the foul line as she time and again took the ball hard to the basket.
"She was outstanding," MHS coach Chris Strathman said. "She did a good job of reading things how they were defending ball screens or not defending them at times. She also did a good job of getting to the basket. She got the foul line a lot."
Much like the first meeting between the teams, the Bullpups got out to a healthy lead, up 34-20 at the half. But the MHS offense went stagnant in the third quarter and then the T-Birds edged within 4 points in the final period, but the Bullpups made enough free throws down the stretch.
Strathman felt like it was a game the Bullpups needed as they have been involved in lopsided games for the most part since the Mid America Classic.
"We hadn't been challenged like that trying to hold a lead for quite some time," Strathman said. "I thought that our girls did enough to hold them off. Could we have done better at some things? Absolutely. But we did get the ball in the right hands of the right people at the right times."
The heralded Circle guard tandem of Kali Martin and Carissa Beck, maybe the best the Bullpups have faced all season, did their part for the T-Birds with 21 and 13 points, respectively, but they didn't have much help.
Mandi Cooks had 10 points in the first half for the Bullpups and was the only other MHS player in doubles with 11.
The Bullpups will close out the regular season on Friday with Senior Night against Augusta, with Emma Yowell and Jordan Bruner the lone two that will be honored.
The MHS JVs stormed to a 72-21 rout with four players scoring in double figures, led by Andrea Sweat with 15 points. Claire Yowell scored 12, Jaycee Burghart added 11 and Megan Eisenbarth chipped in with 10.
The MHS C-team stayed perfect on the year with a 49-26 rout. Cassie Cooks led the Bullpups with 13 points.
MHS (56) — E. Yowell 0-1, 2-2, 2; C. Yowell 0-1, 0-0, 0; Schieferecke 2-2, 0-0, 4; Hett 1-4, 2-4, 5; Robertson 8-15, 10-11, 32; Bruner 0-1, 2-6, 2; M. Cooks 2-8, 7-12, 11. Totals — 13-32, 23-35, 56. 3-pointers — Robertson 6, Hett 1.
Circle (48) — Jeffries 0-1, 0-0, 0; Keller 1-1, 0-0, 2; Perry 1-4, 1-1, 3; Kelly 2-7 , 2-2, 6; Beck 4-12, 3-3, 13; Martin 7-12, 6-7. 21; Galloway 1-7, 1-2, 3. Totals — 16-44, 13-15, 48. 3-pointers— Beck 2, Martin 1.
MHS JV (72) — C. Yowell 12, Burghart 11, Hageman 4, Schieferecke 5, Sweat 15, C. Cooks 4, Ellet 2, Leaf 9, Eisenbarth 10.
MHS C (49) — Beam 8, Schieferecke 9, Stout 6, Strathman 2, Sweat 8, Jones 2, C. Cooks 13, Hein 1.