By CLINT HARDEN
12:34 AM CST, January 27, 2013
For most tournaments,a matchup between the No. 3 team and No. 8 team in 4A would constitute as a championship game. But when the top-ranked team and No. 10 team in 6A enter the mix, a third place game is nothing to feel bad about.
4A No. 3 McPherson met 6A No. 1Olathe South Friday and lost 45-35 to place the Lady Bullpups in the third place game. 4A No. 8 Andale fell 49-41 to 6A No. 10 Manhattan Friday to land in the third place game.
“Third place games are always tough,” said McPherson head coach Chris Strathman. “They’re character-builders. You test your leadership and we have good leaders.”
The Lady Bullpups do, in fact, have good leaders as proved by the 56-46 win over Andale Saturday.
The first half was a tale of two quarters. McPherson led 14-9 after the first quarter, but Andale outscored the Lady Bullpups 16-9 in the second to lead 25-23 at the half.
The Lady Bullpups led 23-22, but Andale dribbled around the perimeter for the better part of a minute for the last shot. Rachel Eck stepped up and dropped a three-point basket like it was nothing at the buzzer and trotted off the court into the locker room.
With the basket, Eck finished the first half with an astounding 17 points. However, McPherson’s Katelyn Loecker was assigned the handful and held her to just two points in the second half.
“With (Loecker), there’s more length and quickness guarding (Eck),” said Strathman. “We knew (Loecker) would be able to stay in front of her a little bit better and she’d be better at contesting the shots.”
Loecker finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The first half saw each team trade blow for blow. Andale’s longest run of the half was 12-2 and McPherson’s was 12-3.
“Andale made their runs,” said Strathman. “At the end of the third quarter, they made that big three to cut the lead to three points.”
It was, in fact, a two-point basket, but the score did cut the lead to three points.
Leading up to the Andale basket, McPherson’s Heather Ruder scored three of her 10 points to tie the game at 31 and teammate Abby Pedersen took the lead for McPherson at 33-31 with 3:30 left in the quarter.
“When you’re battling to get baskets,” said Andale head coach Mark Kerschen. “Three or six points could be the difference.”
Pedersen hit another big shot in the closing minutes of the third quarter. This time it was a three pointer that sent the Lady Bullpups in front of Andale 36-33. She finished with 14 points.
Andale’s Brittany Meyer hit a two at the buzzer, the second buzzer-beater of the game, to make it 41-38.
Kerschen said three or six points could be the difference in a tight game, but McPherson made 20 free throws, most in the closing minutes of the game to put it away.
“They made an ungodly amount of free throws,” he said.
The game became a foul-fest in the final minutes as McPherson was able to ice it.
McPherson and Andale meet again Tuesday, Jan. 29 in a rematch of this very game.
“We’ll make our adjustments and they’ll make theirs,” said Strathman.
Olathe South tops Manhattan by three for the championship
Olathe South, the top-ranked team in 6A, was able to hold on against Manhattan 51-48. Manhattan is the No. 10 team in 6A.
South’s Kylee Kopatich led all players with an eye-popping 31 points. She finished with 6 rebounds and two assists.
The Falcons led 21-17 at halftime and actually trailed 38-36 after the third quarter, but was able to come from behind and finish with the McPherson Tournament Championship.
Caroline Ballard led Manhattan with 13 points. She also had 7 rebounds and a dish. Teammate Darby Price scored 12 in the loss.
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