McPherson claims Mid-America crown
McPHERSON Hailey Ruder was very well-versed in how much a Mid-America Classic championship meant to the McPherson girls basketball team.
Four years had passed since the Bullpups kept the trophy in McPherson, and Ruder and her teammates were desperate to prove this season a special one.
Ruder had no idea how large of a role she would play in McPhersons 52-42 victory over Hays on Saturday night to win the programs eighth tournament championship. The junior had made five three-pointers in McPhersons first 12 games, but made four in the second quarter of the title game to lift the Bullpups with a career-high 17 points.
Im not really known on this team to score, Ruder said. I usually play defense a lot and get some steals. But it feels really good to know we dont rely on one player. When we need to pick each other up and when we need to have our time, we have our time.
Hays, which had knocked off previous unbeatens Manhattan and Andale on its way to the finals, seemed poised for the upset in the first half. The Indians were nearly flawless from the floor, making nine of their 13 shots to take a 25-24 lead into halftime.
Making things even more uncertain for McPherson was that its star post, Katelyn Loecker, went to the locker room in the middle of the second quarter with a sprained ankle.
But in Loeckers absence, Ruder rose to the occasion by keeping McPherson afloat with her four three-pointers, all in a row, in the second quarter.
That allowed McPherson to stay even with Hays, setting the Indians up for a third-quarter ambush. Loecker scored nine of her 15 points in the third quarter, as McPherson blitzed Hays 20-6 in the third quarter to take a 44-31 lead.
McPherson improved to 13-0 on the season.
HAYS: Lunsford 21, Gagnon 7, Herman 1, Pfannenstiel 5, Schumacher 6, Braun 2, Bird 0, Gulley 0. Totals 13 (2) 14-23 42.
McPHERSON: Ruder 17, Hein 9, Pedersen 0, Bruner 3, Loecker 15, Pyle 6, Barnes 2, Willems 0. Totals 16 (8) 12-20 52.
Gardner-Edgerton 61, Andale 46 There was no shame in Andales two losses in McPherson, after it entered the tournament unbeaten. The way coach Mark Kerschen sees it, his team can take valuable lessons from the losses, the latest one handed down by Gardner-Edgerton in the third-place game.
We learned about physical basketball the last three nights, Kerschen said. It was better than practicing at home against ourselves. Weve got to get better.
Gardner-Edgerton certainly showed the Indians a high level in the first half when it made five of its first seven three-point shots and used a 19-3 run to build its lead.
Leading Andale was Emily Rowland, who posted 10 points, four assists and four steals, and Bailey Venjohn, who totaled nine points, six rebounds and three blocks.
I think we learned a few things about ourselves here, Kerschen said. How to play against good teams. I think if the girls show up for practice on Monday with a good attitude, then well be a better team for it.
ANDALE: R. Eck 5, Venjohn 9, Lies 6, Rowland 10, Ast 5, Champion 5, J. Eck 4, Meyer 2. Totals 16 (6) 8-16 46.
GARDNER: Devlin 7, Porter 8, Plank 15, VanDeBerghe 14, Martin 0, Reindl-Boden 5, Wait 5, Dellinger 4, Schaefer 3, Burcham 0, Koelzer 0, Rousselo 0. Totals 25 (6) 5-7 61.
Buhler 78, Goddard 62 The Crusaders trio of Bridget Winter, Kim Patterson and Josie Williams (58 combined points) was a little more potent than Goddards Ashley Foss, Jenna Clasen and Emily Rausch (50) in the seventh-place game.
BUHLER: Sasse 6, Winter 22, Patterson 20, Williams 16, Torgerson 6, Burns 6, M. Bessmer 2, Keller 0, C. Bessmer 0, Dick 0, Balding 0, Weihl 0. Totals 29 (8) 12-17 78.
GODDARD: Clasen 16, Foss 20, L. Rausch 4, E. Rausch 14, Scoggins 6, Johnson-Holt 2, Graf 0. Totals 22 (7) 11-18 62.