Bullpup girls a work in progress

By Steve Sell
December 20, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thoughts on McPherson High’s girls basketball team after one month of play while sitting in a hotel room waiting for the big storm to hit...

• I really thought if the Bullpups could emerge from their four December games 2-2, that was about as good as they could do. I didn’t think they could defeat either Salina Central or Washburn Rural (both ranked, bigger-class teams), and I thought their games with Mulvane and St. Teresa’s Academy were toss-ups.

Sure enough, MHS was competitive in losses against Salina Central and Washburn Rural, as one bad quarter in each game led to a defeat. They took a huge step forward Tuesday against Mulvane and in all honesty, probably should have defeated St. Teresa’s Academy Friday in the Hy-Vee Shootout. 

• The point guard position is a key. MHS coach Chris Strathman has given auditions to several players, but nobody has grabbed hold of the position with any consistency. In the one win, the Bullpups had only nine turnovers. In the three losses, the average was about 20. That tells me when the Bullpups handle the ball well, they have a great chance to win.

• Janae Barnes can be a force if she can stay out of foul trouble. Barnes is 6-0 and highly athletic. She plays with a lot of intensity, perhaps too much at times. When she was on the floor Friday night, the Bullpups had to be way up in plus-points. Once she fouled out, it was evident the Bullpups were probably done. If she can play the way she did against Mulvane, the Bullpups are a potential state team.

• Abby Pedersen is doing what Abby Pedersen is supposed to do. Pedersen, one of two returning starters off last year’s Class 4A state finals team, has provided the Bullpups with consistent scoring. The Bullpups could still set more screens to get her open, as it’s obvious opposing teams know how dangerous she is and they’re getting right in her face, not allowing her to drive to the basket. She has developed a nice up-and-under move around the basket and probably should have more free throw attempts than she does. 

• The bench is developing. In the last couple of games, I’ve really liked the contributions of MHS’ reserves. Friday’s game saw Ashtyn Schieferecke, Ally Ulsaker and Madison Hoffman all make some nice plays. Schieferecke had eight points and five rebounds off the bench, while Ulsaker had five rebounds and two assists. Hoffman came up with three assists and two steals.

• We have to remember what a young team this is. While it has four seniors, a lot of minutes Friday were turned in by underclassmen. In the overtime, the Bullpups had three underclassmen on the floor most of the times. With a young team comes growing pains. The Bullpups will be fine, just let them develop.