This could be the most important week of the season for McPherson College’s basketball teams.
The Bulldogs wrap up KCAC play for 2013 with a pair of crucial home games, starting with Sterling on Thursday and then Friends on Saturday.
The Sterling games have 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. starts, with both being aired on 96.7 KBBE starting at 5:45.
The Mac women have confounded the KCAC experts by starting conference play 2-0, with wins over Bethel and Saint Mary. The Bulldogs, picked to finish in last place in the KCAC preseason polls, have won five of their last six overall to even their record at 6-6.
It’s been all about defense for the Bulldogs. They are fourth in the country in defensive field goal percentage as opponents are making just 33 percent of their shots. They also are 10th in the country in rebounding.
Sterling has been the KCAC’s gold standard in the past 30 years under longtime legendary coach Lonnie Kruse. The Lady Warriors slipped a bit last season and so far this year they are 1-1 in the KCAC, 5-4 overall. They were stunned 61-60 at home last Saturday by Bethel, as the Threshers scored in the last seconds.
Smoky Valley graduate Lori Dauer is the hub of the Sterling offense, as she averages 15 points a game and also pulls down 8.2 rebounds. Kelsey Strobel averages 14.1 points and Hailey Davis is at 11.6 and is the top 3-point threat.
Aubrey Barton and Bailey Brown lead Mac, as they have both scored 146 points to average 12.2. Sunny Smart isn’t far behind at 11.1, though she has not started a game this season.
The men’s game should be a doozy. Both teams are 1-1 in KCAC play and the Bulldogs can ill afford to lose at home. Mac is 7-5 overall and Sterling is 5-4.
The Warriors can put up points in a hurry, as evidenced by their 98 on Saturday against Bethel. Balance is a key, as four Sterling players average in double figures — Eddie Adesodun (17.6), Braden Thompson (16.8), Darius Alexander (12.3) and Buhler grad Brandon Givens (11.4, despite not starting any games).
“This will be a huge week for us,” Mac coach Tim Swarzendruber said Saturday after his team’s 93-80 loss to Saint Mary. “We’re at home for two games against teams that were picked to finish higher than us in the standings.”
The Bulldogs’ Devirous Johnson continues to lead the entire country in rebounding as he pulls down 12.4 a game despite being just 6-3 and often giving away three or four inches inside.
Like Sterling, Mac has four players averaging in double figures — Samson Shivers (17.5), Devirous Johnson (15.0), Joey Powers (13.7) and Brian Johnson (13.6).