By Sports Editor Peter Holland Jr.
Last season when the McPherson High School girls basketball team faced Andover High School in its season opener, Head Coach Chris Strathman was laying in a hospital bed, getting ready for his surgery when he was battling colon cancer. Now cancer-free, Strathman is all business and is looking forward to coaching his 15th season with the Bullpups.
Strathman missed the entire month of December while recovering from his surgery, but the Bullpups won all but one game during that span, including a 55-44 win at Andover. As disappointed as he was to not be on the floor, Strathman saw a different aspect of the game. In his return after Christmas break, the Bullpups went on to finish 21-3 and placed fourth in the Class 5A State Tournament. Looking back, he is more appreciative and humbled to be back coaching as he values season openers.
“That does tend to put things in perspective and made me remember how fortunate I am to be on the floor and able to coach this team,” Strathman said. “These girls have a chance to have a great season and we can’t wait to tip it off on Friday night.”
The Bullpups return three of their starters and four seniors. McPherson is also ranked No. 2 in the KBCA Preseason Ranking. Unfortunately, the Bullpups will be without their senior point guard, Lakyn Schieferecke, as she is still recovering from an ACL injury she sustained earlier this year. With Schierekcke is sidelined, Kassidy Beam is likely to step into the starting role alongside Grace Pyle, who was McPherson’s breakout star last season, along with Andrea Sweat, Emma Ruddle and Cassie Cooks. With plenty of options on the table, Strathman is confident that his Lady Pups will adapt in Schierekcke’s absence.
“With Lakyn being out to start the year, we do have a few girls that we are trying to get ready to fill in and have a bigger role right away,” Strathman said. “You can’t replace her experience and steady leadership, but we will try to collectively fill those needs together as a group.”
Andover finished 10-11 last season and is going into this season with a new head coach, Seth Anderson. Strathman breaks down what to expect from Andover this Friday.
“This year’s Andover team has some nice players and they have a new coach. That in itself creates some issues going into the first game, as we really don’t know much about the style of play to expect from them,” Strathman said. “They have some good and aggressive guards returning in Allison Day and Mallory Woolston, along with two six-foot posts in Kate Ralston and Emma Cunningham. Those should be their main players and then we will have to figure the rest out on the fly.”
Tipoff for Friday’s game will be at 6 p.m. Afterwards will be the 2019 Wall of Fame ceremony.