McPherson High’s girls have their slingshots loaded.
The Bullpups handed Andale its first loss of the season Friday night to earn a spot in Saturday’s 7:15 p.m. Mid America Classic championship game against mighty Olathe South, which has never lost in the history of this event.
The Falcons are a perfect 11-0 in tournament history with three championships.
By virtue of their heart-stopping 47-46 victory Friday, the Bullpups will take a 9-3 record into the finale.
Just when you thought MHS and Andale couldn’t produce more excitement than last week’s game in Andale where the Indians won 45-43 in overtime, this one topped it because of several sensational performances.
“It took that to beat a very, very good Andale team,” said MHS coach Chris Strathman, whose team is seeking its first Classic title since 2012 and 11th overall. “Obviously they were undefeated for a reason. Outstanding team effort. I thought the girls battled, they did a good job on the boards.”
Bullpup freshman Taylor Robertson was simply stunning, as she tied Tanner Hein’s 2012 Classic record with seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 26 points. She was 7 of 12 from beyond the arc and even her misses looked as though they were right on line. Her point total was one off the freshman record of Moundridge’s Laurie Koehn, whose name was evoked on numerous occasions on this night as her performance was Koehn-esque.
Also coming up big for MHS were Ashtyn Schieferecke (six points, 11 rebounds) and Madison Hoffman (four clutch free throws and an amazing defensive job on Andale star Brittany Meyer, who was held to just seven points on 2-of-7 shooting).
Hoffman’s ballhandling also helped the Bullpups to just eight turnovers.
“That’s probably a season low,” Strathman said. “Against a team that does a pretty good job of getting up and pressuring you in the backcourt.”
Robertson’s 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter tied the game at 12-all and she had nine points in the period. An 8-0 MHS second-quarter run — with Robertson draining a pair of treys — sparked MHS to a 25-21 halftime lead.
Not much changed in the third quarter as two more Robertson treys helped MHS stay afloat at 34-31.
Time and again Andale challenged, but MHS would never give up the lead. The Bullpups made the game harder than they should have by missing six free throws in the fourth quarter, but it was a pair by — who else — Robertson with 9 seconds left that gave MHS a four-point lead. Andale hit a trey at the end, but had no timeouts left and the clock ran out.
Hoffman added three free throws in the final minute as Strathman said the Bullpups made just enough to survive.
Lauren Rowland scored 13 points for Andale and Rachel Friedrichs was a load inside with 12. But the seven by Meyer was another reason for the MHS win as Hoffman and Kamryn Collins just wouldn’t give her room to operate.
“Madison is a pretty darn tough kid and she’s a competitor,” Strathman said. “She wants to be on the floor. She’s our leader. She’s a very silent leader, but she’s definitely our leader this year and she’s been doing a great job of it.”
Strathman’s team is now in the position it wants to be as it has nothing to lose against longtime 6A power Olathe South.
“They defend very, very well,” Strathman said. “What’s hard about them is that they don’t seem to run very much motion, they have so many sets and ball screens that they run. They just do it so well. They’re just a hard team to guard... what makes them so tough is they have so many people who can play in the post, including their guards. They’ll run stuff to get them looks inside, which is unusual.”
MHS (47) — Wedel 1-4, 4-5, 6; Yowell 0-2, 0-0, 0; Collins 0-1, 0-0, 0; Hoffman 0-4, 4-7, 4; Schieferecke 2-8, 2-3, 6; Ulsaker 0-1, 0-0, 0; Robertson 8-14, 3-4, 26; M. Cooks 1-3, 1-2, 3; B. Cooks 1-4, 0-2, 2. Totals — 13-41, 14-23, 47. 3-pointers — Robertson 7.
Andale (46) — Easter 1-3, 2-5, 5; Meyer 2-7, 2-2, 7; Dreiling 0-1, 0-0, 0; Maxwell 4-5, 1-1, 9; Rowland 5-14, 3-5, 13; Friedrichs 5-8, 2-2, 12; Venjohn 0-1, 0-0, 0. Totals — 17-39, 10-15, 46. 3-pointers — Easter 1, Meyer 1.