ANDALE — When the ball first left his hand, Mason Alexander thought he had missed it left.
But as it got closer to the rim, then he realized it was going in.
Alexander's basket with 2.2 seconds left on Friday broke a 34-all tie and then Andale ran a perfectly executed lob play, but Grant Fairchild rushed the shot and missed as McPherson High handed the Indians their first loss of the year by the pulling-teeth score of 36-34 in a game where the offenses played at a molasses-like pace.
MHS is now 9-1 as it heads into its tournament on Thursday, as it plays the late game against Blue Valley West.
This was football in baggy shorts as the game was uber-physical and the Bullpups survived the battle with the win, not to mention some bumps and bruises.
Andale, which led quite a bit of the game, tied it at 34 with 1:45 to go on a basket by Easton Hunter, who was a thorn in the side all night. MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon elected to take it to the end and Alexander spent the final seconds at the top of the key before making his move and hitting the pull-up J.
"Really good win. Big-time shot (to win it)," Kinnamon said. "He had struggled a little bit from the field, but he made some free throws for us down the stretch."
It was a hammer-and-tong game. MHS sped to a 7-2 lead early, but Andale clamped down defensively and was up as many as 6 before settling for a 20-16 halftime lead. The Bullpups used an 8-0 run in the third quarter to go ahead 24-22, but the Indians had a crazy tip-in at the end of the quarter to tie it at 24.
MHS fell behind by 4 in the fourth quarter, then had an 8-0 run to lead by 4. Again, though, Andale toughed its way back into it and tied it to set up Alexander's winner.
"They are big, strong kids," Kinnamon said of Andale. "I thought we were on the floor tonight for more loose balls. I thought our post defense was really good. Just a great job. You can bet that inbounds play (that Andale ran at the end) will be in our playbook tomorrow. That was a tremendous in-bounds play (at the end), tremendous. Give coach (Jeff) Buchanan and those guys a lot of credit. That was a fabulous play. If the guy had slowed down, we'd still being playing."
Ben Pyle scored 12 points on 4 treys and Alexander added 11. MHS was just 13 of 31 from the field.
Hunter scored 15 for Andale, which was 13 of 33 from the field.
The MHS JVs came away with a 54-39 victory behind 12 points by Gabe Hoover and 10 by Aren Trost.
The freshmen, who were short-handed as they were missing top scorer Jayton Alexander due to illness, fell behind 30-8, rallied to tie it up before losing 50-43. Eli Pyle scored 15 and Max Alexander added 10.
MHS (36) — Labertew 1-1, 0-0, 2; Diggs 1-1, 0-0, 2; Stufflebean 1-1, 3-4, 5; Jk. Alexander 2-6, 0-0, 4; B. Pyle 4-11, 0-1, 12; Mas. Alexander 4-11, 2-2, 11; Hoppes 0-0, 0-0, 0; Kinnamon 0-0, 0-0, 0; Hoover 0-0, 0-0, 0; Jy. Alexander 0-0, 0-0, 0. Totals — 13-31, 5-7, 36. 3-pointers — B. Pyle 1. Mas. Alexander 1.
Andale (34) — Biermann 0-2, 0-0, 0; Jobbins 2-3, 0-0, 4; Hunter 5-13, 4-4, 15; Urbanek 2-4, 2-2, 7; Bruce 3-6, 0-1, 6; Fairchild 1-3, 0-0, 2; Carney 0-4, 0-0, 0. Totals — 13-33, 6-7, 34. 3-pointers — Hunter 1, Urbanek 1.
MHS JV (54) — Mx. Alexander 6, Stufflebean 3, Schmid 3, Hoover 12, Kinnamon 7, Courtney 7, Trost 10, S. Pyle 6.
MHS 9th (43) — Mx. Alexander 10, E. Pyle 15, Powell 9, Elliott 9.