What a ride. As the No. 8 seed of the conference tournament, the Bulldogs proved to the teams of the KCAC that they were a force to be reckoned with. With MC’s 87-80 victory over Sterling, they become just the second team in the league’s history to win the tournament as the No. 8 seed.
After a brilliant National Anthem sung by McPherson College student EH Petropulos, both teams came out a little anxious as evident from nearly two minutes of scoreless play with a plethora of short shots. Sterling scored two of the first baskets but played catch-up for most of the opening half. The ‘Dogs led by just a handful for the first 20 minutes and got up by as many as five, coming before the midway mark of the period. There were four ties and nine lead changes in the first half.
Mac shot a 45.5 field goal percentage in the opening period, making 15-of-33 from the field with 4-of-9 going in from downtown; they shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. The Warriors converted on 14-of-38, struggling to find the bottom of the net in the first few but coming alive late; they cashed in on 6-of-16 from behind the arc and 2-of-3 from the foul line. MC’s Adam Bruner (McPherson, Kan.) had an incredible first half, scoring 17 on 6-of-12 from the field with three from deep and two free throws. Braden Thompson led SC in scoring with 14.
The second period opened with MC tying their largest advantage of the game at five; after that, the teams went back-and-forth for the next several minutes until the ‘Dogs put together some buckets, increasing their lead to 10 before the midway point of the half. The score margin hovered around the double-digit mark for the next five minutes but then the Warrior began their push. Sterling pulled within five with just under two minutes left but four-straight points by Mac put the Bulldogs back up by nine 30 seconds later. Points were traded for the final minute of regulation and with the help of eight consecutive free throws, McPherson completed an extremely unlikely tournament run to be named 2012-13 KCAC Tournament Champions, winning 87-80.
In the second half, MC made 46.9% of their 32 attempts including 3-of-8 from long range; the team nailed 15-of-16 from the stripe for an unbelievable 20-of-21 for the game. 19-of-34 field goals were bucketed by Sterling with two three balls; 4-of-7 free throws fell through. After tallying 10 first half assists, only two were accumulated in the second for SC. Mac was careful with the ball in the final 20 as they had just one turnover.
A 46.2 field goal percentage was logged by the ‘Dogs in the contest as they hit 30-of-65 with seven from distance. The Warriors made three more shots from the floor than MC, converting on 33-of-72; 8-of-28 three pointers were counted for as were 6-of-10 from the charity stripe. The Bulldogs were outrebounded 41-35 and gave up 17 offensive boards while grabbing 12 of their own. McPherson did an amazing job with their passing as only five turnovers were committed; Sterling had 12 TOs of their own and the ‘Dogs stole eight.
Bruner scored 10 in the second half to give him 27 for the competition; he made 11-of-21 from the field with 2-of-3 going in from the stripe. Samson Shivers (Houston, Texas) also played well, scoring 17 on 6-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the foul line. Joey Powers (Welch, Okla.) had a solid second period and ended the game bucketing 5-of-8 field goals and one free throw for 13 points. Jake Reinhardt (Walton, Kan.) also made it over the 10-point hump, tallying 11 with seven of his total coming from the charity stripe; he was 2-of-5 from the rest of the floor and also had nine boards. Devirous Johnson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) hit the double figures in rebounds, logging 10 and also scored eight.
Thompson ended the contest as the Warrior’s leading scorer with his 16; he converted on 6-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-1 free throw attempt while leading SC in rebounds with 11. Darius Alexander saw 5-of-13 field goals go in and 2-of-4 foul line shots for his 15 points. After spending the majority of the first period on the bench due to foul trouble, Raheem Odomes finished the game with 14 points.
It’s off to Point Lookout, Missouri and the NAIA National Tournament for the Bulldogs; seeding for the tourney begins tomorrow. MC’s first game will come on March 6th or 7th.
An audio replay of the championship game will be aired on KBBE 96.7 FM immediately following the high school sub-state contests.