Chris Strathman knows his McPherson High girls have a massive bullseye on their back.
The Bullpups are the prohibitive favorite to get through the Buhler Class 4A Division I basketball sub-state that begins on Friday.
But their 17-3 record, which dwarfs those of the three other teams, means nothing now. The Bullpups are approaching the tourney as if it’s a new season.
MHS begins play at 7:30 p.m. Friday against a Buhler team it has swamped twice this year, once without All-Stater Taylor Robertson as she missed the first meeting with a broken finger.
Catch all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole on the call.
If the Bullpups dispatch with the 3-17 Crusaders as expected, they’ll play either Hays or Ulysses, both of whom are 11-9 but neither has a signature victory that stands out.
Buhler went with a junk defense in the last meeting with MHS, but it did little good. Strathman knows the Crusaders might try another form of attack.
“We will prepare for a little bit of everything this week,” Strathman said. “All three teams have shown no hesitation in playing junk defenses, so nothing will really surprise us anymore. Some of our best offense against that approach has been our defensive pressure, which helps us get out in transition to get good shots before they are set.”
Strathman will be an interested observer at the Hays-Ulysses game. He has seen plenty of Hays since it competed in the Mid America Classic in January.
“Hays and Ulysses really should be a great matchup in the other first-round game,” Strathman said. “They have had some common opponents during the regular season, so that is kind of interesting to look at.”
The Bullpups are riding a seven-game winning streak, nearly all of the games being of the lopsided variety. Their only losses this season have come to Miege, Newton and Olathe South, all ranked teams that are expected to make their respective state tournaments.
“I do feel we are playing our best basketball going into the sub-state,” Strathman said. “It would have been good for us to be tested a little more during the February portion of our schedule, but we can't control that. The way we played ourselves helped put some of those games out of reach, so I do think we are playing well right now. Our players will respond well to the added sense of urgency that comes along with postseason play.”
Saturday's girls championship game is set for 6 p.m.