After three straight games that barely emitted a yawn, there finally was a close game in the finale Thursday in the Mid America Classic.
For a half, that is.
McPherson High shook loose late in the first half to take a 23-16 lead over Dodge City, then scored the first 10 points of the second half as an impetus to a 53-35 success.
The 8-3 Bullpups get their much-anticipated rematch with undefeated Andale at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. The teams met last week in Andale with the Bullpups unable to hold a 10-point second-half lead before subsequently losing 45-43 in overtime.
The Bullpups spent most of the first half knocking off the rust of a nine-day layoff, leading only 18-16 before scoring five quick points going into the break.
"What hurt us more than anything with that layoff was we never did have a full squad at practice," MHS coach Chris Strathman said. "We've been battling some illness and tonight we had all 11 varsity kids for the first time since at Andale last week. So that was tough."
While the MHS offense was sporadic, the solid defense was a constant as Dodge City really struggled to put points on the board.
"Dodge City was a good, quality team," Strathman said. "We broke down on some assignments and they got where we shouldn't have let them. But overall I thought we did a good job defensively on their team tonight."
Freshman Mandi Cooks, who didn't have to have her quarters monitored since she also plays JV during the regular season, provided the Bullpups a spark off the bench as she scored 12 points. Ashtyn Schieferecke also scored 12 points.
Now is the rematch with Andale, which didn't break a sweat in a rout of Wichita Southeast.
There could be somewhat of a difference from the first meeting in that an injury has taken away inside presence Kylee Ebert and it will be a quicker team Andale puts on the floor and one that won't quite enjoy the rebounding advantage it did in the first meeting.
"What that does is make them play faster," Strathman said. "What that means is they'll put four guards on the floor and will look to push it… transition defense will be a key tomorrow night."
MHS (53) — Schmidt 0-1, 0-0, 0; Wedel 1-4, 0-0, 2; Yowell 3-6, 0-0, 8; Hoffman 0-1, 0-0, 0; Collins 0-0, 2-2, 2; Schieferecke 4-9, 4-5, 12; Ulsaker 2-6, 2-2, 6; Robertson 3-7, 0-0, 9; M. Cooks 5-8, 2-2, 12; B. Cooks 1-3, 0-0, 2. Totals — 19-45, 10-11, 53. 3-pointers — Robertson 3, Yowell 2.
Dodge City (35) — B. Bradshaw 4-8, 2-5, 10; T. Bradshaw 2-5, 1-2, 5; Maple 1-3, 0-0, 2; Harshberger 3-8, 0-0, 6; Shelor 1-4, 0-0, 2; Nelson 3-7, 1-2, 7; Mota 1-1, 0-0, 3. Totals — 15-36, 4-9, 35. 3-pointers — Mota 1.