TOPEKA — When it got away from the McPherson High girls Friday night, it got away in a hurry.
The Bullpups battled state-ranked Class 6A Washburn Rural to a 17-17 first-quarter standoff behind 12 points by Abby Pedersen.
But then the Junior Blues beat MHS down the court time and again in the second period for 20 points and a 13-point halftime bulge, the kickstart to a 60-50 victory.
It was the Bullpups’ second straight loss to open the season while Rural won for the third straight time.
"We knew when we saw the schedule, we knew we were going to have a tough road those first two games and it sure turned out that way," MHS coach Chris Strathman said. "I felt better about our chances matchup-wise tonight than I did against Salina Central. But we just let (Courtney) Winkley have her way inside way too much and it was too easy for her. We talked after the game that it's obvious we have some things to work on."
Winkley was a force for the Junior Blues. She survived a variety of Bullpup defenders to score 18 of her 27 points in the first half, showing versatility by scoring with either hand. She made 10 of 18 shots and 7 of 10 free throws.
"They (Rural) did a super job of knowing where their strength was and continuing to go to it," said Strathman, as everything the Junior Blues did seemed to go through Winkley. "And we've got to learn from that."
The Bullpups showed much improvement early on over their last game, but then reverted to their first-game form as the ball movement dried up and the scoring stagnated. The second quarter turned the tide, as the Junior Blues outscored MHS 20-7, but the Bullpups outscored Rural in other three quarters combined, including a 26-23 advantage in the second half after the Junior Blues had led 37-24 at recess.
Pedersen came out on fire for the Bullpups by making her first five shots in the first quarter, but took only one shot over the next two quarters. She wound up the game with 22 points, going 7 of 11 from the field and 6 of 6 at the line. Janae Barnes was next with nine points, but it was all nickels and dimes after that.
Jordyn Musselman followed Winkley with 14 points, including 7 of 7 from the foul line as she displayed a smooth stroke.
The MHS JVs were a 40-26 winner behind 12 points by Emma Yowell. The C-team overwhelmed the Junior Blues, but stats was unavailable.
MHS continues its difficult schedule Tuesday as Mulvane comes to town, which has more returning experience than other team in AVCTL Division III.
MHS (50) — Schmidt 1-5, 2-2, 4; Willems 1-3, 2-2, 4; Hoffman 0-3, 2-2, 2; Pedersen 7-11, 6-6, 22; Schieferecke 3-4, 0-0, 6; Barnes 2-11, 5-9, 9; Cooks 1-1, 1-2, 3. Totals — 15-41, 17-23, 50. 3-pointers — Pedersen 2, Willems 1.
Rural (60) — Edwards 2-3, 1-1, 5; Browne 2-3, 0-0, 4; Hamilton 1-2, 0-0, 2; Musselman 3-5, 7-7, 14; Biggs 0-3, 0-0, 0; Winkley 10-18, 7-10, 27; Cunningham 2-4, 3-4, 8. Totals — 20-36, 18-22, 60. 3-pointers — Musselman 1, Cunningham 1.
MHS JV (40) — Wedel 6, Howard 3, Yowell 12, Bruner 2, Schieferecke 7, Ulsaker 6, Collins 4.
MHS C not available.