McPherson High's girls stepped up in competition here Tuesday.
In fact, the Andover Trojans may be the best team the Bullpups face this year during the regular season.
The Trojans, ranked No. 4 in Class 5A, sprinted to a 22-7 first-quarter lead, but to MHS' credit it was outscored by only two points the rest of the way in a 61-44 loss, even with most of Andover's starters on the floor at the end.
The Bullpups' youth showed early as they were hit with a 20-2 Trojan punch, as Andover time and again beat the MHS defense down the court.
However, Bullpup coach Chris Strathman saw a lot of good things over the final three quarters as he continues to evaluate his team in the early season. The teams scored the same number of points in the second and third quarters, with Andover winning the final period by just two.
"We did a lot better the last three quarters, for sure," Strathman said. "They just kind of threw a haymaker at us to start the game. They weren't missing shots and got a couple of easy ones in transition. They're just a very, very fast team overall, they're just quick."
Bullpup freshman Mandi Cooks came off the bench for eight points and six rebounds, showing that she could be the post player of the future. Sophomore Kamryn Collins also made a lot of things happen off the bench with six points and some nice defensive plays.
"They both came in and did some good things," Strathman said. "They were aggressive. Mandi posted real strong. She got in a hurry a few times as far as finishing. She just needs to slow down and finish and she'll be just fine. Kamryn is very athletic, obviously, and just gets to the basket."
MHS, though, had no answer for Creighton signee Jaylyn Agnew, who scored 21 points despite the fact she sat a lot in the second half because of foul trouble. Riley Messina added 13 points, but the Bullpups did a nice defensive job on 6-0 Hayley Meisch, who was held to five points after scoring 11 in her season debut.
The MHS JV girls breezed to a 47-27 victory behind Mandi Cooks, who poured in 22 points in limited time. Paige Schmidt was next with eight. MHS is now 2-0.
The ninth-grade girls had an 18-12 lead at half, but the Trojans responded with a 10-2 third quarter and continued the momentum for a 34-28 victory. Kaitlyn Gabel scored 10 points for the Bullpups, now 1-1 on the year.
MHS goes on the road for the first time this season on Friday when it travels to Winfield, which is expected to have one of its best teams in years.
McPherson (44) — Schmidt 3-5, 0-0, 7; Wedel 1-6, 0-1, 2; Yowell 0-4, 2-2, 2; Collins 2-4, 2-5, 6; Hoffman 2-6, 2-2, 6; Schiefercke 2-2, 4-7, 8; Ulsaker 1-4, 1-2, 3; Robertson 1-7, 0-0, 2; M Cooks 3-8, 2-8, 8; B. Cooks 0-1, 0-0, 0. Totals — 15-47, 13-27, 44. 3-pointers — Schmidt 1.
Andover (61) — Hays 1-4, 2-4, 5; Agnew 7-11, 5-7, 21; Day 2-6, 2-2, 7; Messina 4-5, 5-8, 13; Tilson 3-6, 1-1, 7; Preboth 1-1, 0-0, 3; Meisch 1-3, 3-4, 5. Totals — 19-36, 18-26, 61. 3-pointers — Agnew 2, Hays 1, Day 1, Preboth 1.
MHS JV (47) — Schmidt 8, Collins 6, Crist 4, Ulsaker 7, Cooks 22.
MHS 9th (28) — Crist 4, Gabel 10, Williams 6, H. Schmidt 2, Schrader 6.