Given the galaxy of Division I All-State stars that adorned the Roundhouse floor here Tuesday, surprisingly it was an unsung player who decided the outcome in a game of potential state championship game finalists.
Hannah Hageman hit a 3-pointer with 1:09 left in the game to give No. 2-ranked (Class 4A D-I) McPherson High a 50-49 lead over the No. 1 team in Class 6A, Derby, and then her two free throws with 33 seconds left pushed it to 52-49. MHS finally finished off a 54-49 victory before a boisterous crowd that raised the roof.
The game had wild swings throughout as it was the Bullpups' 3-point barrage trying to overcome Derby's powerful inside game. MHS wound up making 12 treys — giving it 23 in two games — while Derby made just 4 of 11 and probably lost the game at the foul line where it made a tepid 9 of 20.
"I was so proud of our girls for the toughness they showed," said MHS coach Chris Strathman, whose team will take a 2-0 record to Kansas City on Friday to play another No. 1-ranked team in defending 4A D-I champion Bishop Miege. "Being able to come from behind against the No. 1 team in 6A was a testament to our toughness. Real proud of our team effort tonight."
Trailing 23-20 with 3:41 left in the first half, the Bullpups went on an 11-0 tear to close it out. Hageman scored 5 straight points to push MHS into the lead and then reigning Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year Taylor Robertson scored the last 6 points, including an emotionally lifting 3-ball at the halftime buzzer, to make it 31-23.
Derby came out strong in the second half while the Bullpups were a bit tentative. But Robertson scored all 9 MHS points in the third period as it still had a 40-35 lead going into the final quarter.
But Derby's terrific 6-6 junior center Kennedy Brown was countering and her basket with 5:53 left finally put the Panthers in the lead, 42-41. Again, though, MHS rained 3s, this time one apiece by Riley Hett and Robertson, to lead 47-42.
Derby had one more run. It scored 7 straight for a 49-47 lead, before Hageman buried her 3-pointer to give MHS the lead it would never give up.
"In the first half she turned down a couple, and we said 'Hannah, you've got to shoot the basketball.' She did and she drained four 3s for us tonight and just had some really big baskets," Strathman said.
The Panthers had a chance to tie the game with 21.9 seconds left, but Derby's normally reliable Sydney Nilles was fouled on a 3-point attempt, only to miss all three free throws. MHS ran out the clock and broke Derby's pressure, with Andrea Sweat scoring to clinch it.
Robertson finished with 24 points and Hageman 16 for the Bullpups. A huge stat was rebounding as MHS had a 32-29 advantage, with Robertson and Maggie Leaf snaring 6 apiece, with Leaf coming off the bench for 12 important minutes.
Brown, who can shoot the ball softly with either hand, finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Nilles scored 11 and Aliyah Myers tallied 10. The Bullpups did a scotch-tape job on Missouri State commit Tore'E Alford, holding her to 6 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
The MHS JVs shredded the Panthers 72-31 behind 20 points by Grace Pyle, 13 by Andrea Sweat and 12 by Emma Ruddle.
In the C-game, the Bullpups again got the game into running clock for a 58-28 victory. Grace Pyle and Kassidy Beam were a double-barreled attack with 18 and 17 points, respectively, and Emma Malm completed a double-digit triumvirate with 13.
MHS (54) — Yowell 0-2, 0-0, 0; Hageman 4-8, 4-4, 16; Hett 2-4, 0-0, 6; Robertson 8-18, 3-3, 24; C. Cooks 1-5, 0-0, 2; Schieferecke 1-2, 1-2, 4; Sweat 1-2, 0-0, 2; Leaf 0-1, 0-0, 0. Totals — 17-42, 8-9, 54. 3-pointers — Robertson 5, Hageman 4, Hett 2, Schieferecke 1.
Derby (49) — Nilles 4-9, 1-5, 11; Myers 2-4, 5-6, 10; Alford 3-10, 0-0, 6; Brown 7-16, 1-5, 16; Young 0-4, 2-2, 2; Mills 1-5, 0-2, 2; Schomp 1-1, 0-0, 2. Totals — 18-49, 9-20, 49. 3-pointers — Nilles 2, Myers 1, Brown 1.
MHS JV (72) — Beam 3, Burghart 6, Ruddle 12, Schieferecke 2, Stout 2, Pyle 20, Sweat 13, Malm 4, Ellet 4, Leaf 2, Eisenbarth 4.
MHS C (58) — Beam 17, Godwin 6, Pyle 18, Collins 2, Malm 13, Stout 2.