ROELAND PARK — McPherson High's girls had no answer for the unguarded 15-footer.
The defending state champion Bishop Miege Stags were 25 of 36 from the free throw line compared to 6 of 8 for the Bullpups and rode that advantage to a 59-51 victory in a matchup of the No. 1 and 2 teams in the state on Friday.
The Bullpups gave a valiant effort against the much-taller and quicker Stags, as the game was tied at 41-all with 5:35 remaining before Miege closed the game on an 18-10 run, most of those points coming from the foul line as once MHS got behind it was forced to foul. Miege was 12 of 18 in the final period from the stripe
Also, the Bullpups' 3-point shooting dried up in the fourth quarter as they made only 1 of 8 after the long ball kept them in the game for three quarters. However, they made 10 in the game and Miege didn't make a single one.
MHS coach Chris Strathman was proud of his team's courageous effort as there was little separation for the first 27 minutes. Miege had led 32-24 at the half — spurred by 12 of 16 from the foul line while MHS did not have an attempt — but 4 Bullpup 3-pointers in the third quarter drew them within 39-37 going into the final stanza.
"We were down 8 at the half and I knew the girls would battle back," Strathman said. "And they did and we were able to take the lead. Miege did a great job of having an answer for every run we made. That's kind of their MO. They're just mentally tough like that and they don't ever crumble. So you've got to have the lead in the fourth quarter and hopefully hang on."
The Bullpups stayed alive behind the remarkable play of All-Stater Taylor Roberston, who poured in 30 points. Despite behind hawked and doubled, she made 9 of 13 shots and was 5 of 5 at the line. Riley Hett was the only other Bullpup close to double digits, scoring 9 points.
Miege was led by a pair of gifted freshmen as Faith Hawthorne, a 6-1 post, powered her way to 23 points, including 11 of 14 at the foul line. Peyton Verhulst, a 6-2 point guard who is the daughter of former Buhler All-Stater Robin Baker and granddaughter of legendary coach Jim Baker, scored 12 points, making 8 of 11 from the foul line.
Both teams played without a potential All-State player. The Bullpups, of course, were missing Mandi Cooks, expected to be out much of the year, while 6-3 sophomore standout Ashton Verhulst was out with an injured ankle.
The MHS JV girls stormed to a 55-26 rout. Freshman Grace Pyle knocked down 5 3-pointers and scored 15 points to lead the Bullpups. Megan Eisenbarth took care of the inside work by adding 10 points.
Due to the C-game being played at another gym, no score was available.
MHS stays on the road Tuesday to take on Abilene.
MHS (51) — Hageman 2-8, 0-1, 5; Schieferecke 1-4, 0-0, 3; Hett 3-4, 1-2, 9; Sweat 1-4, 0-0, 2; Robertson 9-13, 5-5, 30; C. Cooks 1-2, 0-0, 2; Leaf 0-2, 0-0, 0. Totals 17-37, 6-8, 51. 3-pointers — Robertson 6, Hett 2, Hageman 1. Schieferecke 1.
Miege (59) — Jor. Gonzales 1-4, 4-6, 6; Joh. Gonzales 5-9, 1-3, 11; Russell 1-1, 0-0, 2; J. Harms 0-1, 0-0, 0; Verhulst 2-10, 8-11, 12; C. Harms 2-5, 1-2, 5; Hawthorne 6-1, 11-14, 23. Totals — 17-40, 25-36, 59. 3-pointers — None.
MHS JV (55) — Beam 2, Yowell 3, Ruddle 4, Pyle 15, Sweat 7, Malm 2, Ellet 4, Leaf 8, Eisenbarth 10.