Bullpups have another road test at Derby

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Sports Editor, Peter Holland Jr. 

Tuesday’s win over Andover Central was quite the momentum boost for both the McPherson High School​ boys and girls basketball teams. Now the Bullpups must carry that momentum on to Friday night when they travel to Derby High School. 

The Lady Pups weren’t as in sync offensively in their overtime win over Andover Central. There were mental errors they cannot afford when they take on a 6A juggernaut in Derby. Head Coach Chris Strathman made only two substitutions on Tuesday night. The starting five played the majority of the second half of the game. With the Bullpups missing two of their starters, Strathman is not taking any chances in putting his younger players into the fire.

“We love to give people more time but this week is going to be tough to give those young kids time,” Strathman said. “We just worry about winning the games first but we definitely want to develop our kids too. There were some matchup situations that I didn’t really like if we went to our bench. That’s why we had to go the distance for the most part.“

After the Bullpups win over the Jags, Strathman mentioned the absence of senior point guard, Lakyn Schieferecke,  who could’ve been that missing piece needed during crunch time. Both Schieferecke and Emma Ruddle are the two senior starters missing for the Bullpups. 

“We made some mistakes that we’re a bit uncharacteristic but we’re also missing our leading point guard,” Strathman said. “Those situations are exactly what she (Schieferecke) kinds of excelled at.”

The good news for McPherson is that Schieferecke is making progress as she has been cleared to practice. The Bullpups are welcoming her back with open arms as she continues to get back in full form after recovering from an ACL injury. Strathman hopes to have her back in the lineup after Christmas break. 

Last season, Derby gave the Lady Pups their only loss in the regular season, 47-35. At the time, the Panthers had Kennedy Brown, a 6-foot-6  McDonalds All-American who now plays for Oregon State, and Tor’e Alvord, an All-State point guard who now plays for Hutchinson Community College. Even with the departure of these two players, Derby is more of a reload not a rebuilding team, which means the Panthers still have enough talent to put up at least 80 points a night.

That’s exactly what they did in their season opener against Arkansas City High School. The Panthers blew out Ark City, 81-21 on Tuesday. The Panthers are led by a freshman duo — Maryn Archer and Addy Brown. Archer led Derby with 18 points and Brown had 15. Overall, the Panthers are a position-less team in which they can score from anywhere on the court. 

“They are very skilled and will be better than Andover Central,” Strathman said. “They have the ability to score from all levels — inside, outside, good shooters and drivers, they are a little bit more balanced overall offensively than Andover Central. Both great teams, just different styles. If everyone makes it out to Derby on Friday, they are going to help see us battle, and hopefully, it makes us find a way to pull it out. It’s going to be a really tough challenge for us on Friday at Derby. I like our chances when we have kids who can compete like what our kids did on Tuesday.”

As for the boys, you couldn’t ask for a better confidence booster than upsetting Andover Central. According to McPherson’s Head Coach Kurt Kinnamon’s scouting report, “there will be a new No. 1 team.” The Bullpups may get that top spot, taking down the Jags got them right where they need to be. Kinnamon saw a different team compared to their loss to Andover in last week’s season opener. 

“We just played,” Kinnamon said. “We didn’t look tentative. We just played and we had fun and they enjoyed each other. You just can’t say enough that it is an effort thing because in all reality we are not the most overly athletic team. We are a little bit foot slow, and you have to make up for it with desire, effort and smarts, and I thought our kids were wonderful. I couldn’t be more proud.”

With momentum on their side, the Bullpups are tested yet against Derby. Last season, McPherson played in a tight ball-game against the Panthers but was edged out in the end, 44-42. This year’s Derby team is about 14-players deep, and at least nine are in the rotation. The Panthers beat Ark City in their home-opener despite the Bulldogs missing more than half their players due to a one-game suspension. Their top scorers include Isaac Ray, who led with 14 points that night, and Tre Washington, who is also a football standout for Derby. Kinnamon expects another physical matchup, but he’s confident McPherson will pull off another stunner. 

“They are always athletes,” Kinnamon said. “You got those all-state football players with (Tre) Washington, (Lem) Wash, (Grant) Adler. They will be physical. They will be fast and tough. We have to have the effort like we did Tuesday night.”

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