Don't count out the McPherson High girls just yet.
The Bullpups entered their first game of 2014 here Tuesday with just one victory, while Buhler steamed into the Roundhouse with a 5-0 record, destroying everything in its path.
When old rivals meet, however, just throw those records right out the window.
The Bullpups took control of the game in the second quarter to construct a 10-point halftime lead, pushed it out to as many as 19 in the third quarter before holding off a furious Crusader rally for a desperately needed 60-55 victory.
MHS is now 2-3 overall, but 2-0 in AVCTL Division III, with wins at home over what are considered the other two top teams.
The Bullpups' defensive effort on star Buhler guard Jessica Steffen was nothing short of sensational. Brooke Bate got the bulk of the minutes, while Madison Hoffman and Paige Schmidt took turns as well, holding her to nine points after she had scored 43 in her two previous games.
"Steffen has been going off lately. She's a fantastic player," MHS coach Chris Strathman said. "She ended up with six shot attempts in 24 minutes. Brooke, Madison and Paige all guarded her a little bit. They all did a great, great job. Also, our team was focused on helping those girls out. We just did a good job with team defense."
MHS was down 8-4 early, but scored the final nine points of the quarter to lead 13-8, then pushed it to 26-16 by half. The Bullpups came out scorching in the third quarter and after back-to-back 3-pointers by Hannah Willems and Abby Pedersen, the lead mushroomed to 40-21 at one point.
In the fourth quarter, Taryn Torgerson did her best to lead a Buhler charge as the Crusaders got as close as five, but the Bullpups hit enough free throws to pull away. For the game, MHS visited the stripe 44 times and made 31, with Abby Pedersen knocking down 11 of 12 on her way to 21 points. The Bullpups actually started the game making their first 11 attempts.
"Our goal for a game is 70 percent or better and that's 7o.5," Strathman said of his team's free throwing. "We did what we had to do. They're a great team. We knew they'd go on a run, we just wish it hadn't been as big a run."
Willems scored 13, Schmidt careered with 11 and Janae Barnes just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
It was Schmidt that provided the nicest surprise as her offense was welcomed.
"We knew she was capable," Strathman said. "She can break people down off the dribble and especially with the way the game was being called it was to her advantage."
Alex Keller scored 19 points to lead Buhler and Torgerson scored 12 of her 15 in the fourth quarter.
MHS has a day of practice before taking on Hutchinson here Thursday, then travels Friday to Winfield.
The MHS JV team crushed the Crusaders 59-14 behind 13 points apiece from Schmidt and Emma Yowell.
The MHS C-team came away with a 41-26 triumph behind a 17-point outburst by Morgan Howard, while Yowell chipped in with nine.
MHS (60) — Schmidt 2-2, 6-10, 11; Wedel 0-1, 0-0, 0; Bate 0-2, 0-0, 0; Willems 3-4, 5-8, 13; Hoffman 0-1 1-2, 1; Pedersen 4-8, 11-12, 21; Schieferecke 0-1, 0-0, 0; Ulsaker 0-1, 4-4, 4; Barnes 3-6, 4-10, 10; Cooks 0-0, 0-0, 0. Totals — 12-26, 31-44, 60. 3-pointers — Willems 2, Pedersen 2, Schmidt 1.
Buhler (55) — Steffen 3-6, 2-4, 9; Balding 0-3, 2-4, 2; Domsch 1-1, 2-2, 4; Keller 6-13, 4-7, 19; Rohr 0-1 0-0, 0; Torgerson 4-7, 4-4, 15; Burns 1-2, 4-9, 6. Totals — 15-33, 18-30, 55. 3-pointers — Keller 3, Torgerson 3, Steffen 1.
MHS JV (59) — Schmidt 13, Wedel 5, Hoffman 2, Yowell 13, Bruner 2, Schieferecke 2, Ulsaker 8, Collins 8, Cooks 6.
MHS C (41) — Howard 17, Yowell 9, Bruner 3, Collins 5, Dossett 2, Bennett 5.