PYLE, BEAM TO LEAD TITLE HUNT IN 2020-21

By William

MCPHERSON – Despite playing nearly playing half a season without two top players and a whole season without a third, the McPherson girls basketball team showed lots of grit and determination as they finished the 2019-20 season with just one loss against 22 victories.

The only thing that stopped the Lady Bullpups was the coronavirus pandemic as the KSHSAA was forced to close down the state basketball tournaments after their first round of games.

Despite playing half the season without standout seniors Lakyn Schierferecke and Emma Ruddle, McPherson leaned on two juniors, Grace Pyle and Kassidy Beam, who both came through with all world numbers in getting the Lady Bullpups to within one game of the state championship.

“Due to injuries to some very key players, our girls had to overcome so much adversity this season,” noted Lady Bullpup Head Coach Chris Strathman. “To have the season we did is a real testament to these girls and their toughness and will to win.”

Besides going 22-1 overall, the Lady Bullpups also went 10-0 in Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division III games. The only regular season loss came against Shawnee Mission Northwest, a Class 6A state tournament qualifier, in the finals of the Mid-America Classic basketball tournament.

Before the season even started the Lady Bullpups knew they would start out with the services of Schieferecke, a Washburn University signee, as she continued recovering from a summer knee injury and surgery, while Ruddle, a commit to Fort Hays State, was going to miss the first nine games with a leg injury. Coach Strathman then lost senior and another Washburn Ichabod signee, Andrea Sweat, for the season with a knee injury before the third game of the season.

But the girls never lost faith in their play and they hit the court with the state championship still being the goal to reach for.

By the end of the season, the five Lady Bullpups that started the one game they played in the state tournament were all playing well enough that all five earned various post-season honors, while Coach Strathman was named Class 5A Coach of the Year by Sports in Kansas.

Among the top players for the Lady Bullpups in 2019-20 were:

  • Grace Pyle, a junior, who had a whirlwind of a season as she led the Lady Bullpups in scoring, with 361 points or 15.7 per game, rebounding, with 191 or 8.3 per game, assists with 94, steals with 68 and blocked shots with 28. Pyle filled a whole closet with post-season awards including first team Class 5A by Vype Magazine, the Wichita Eagle, the Topeka Capital-Journal, Sports in Kansas and the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association. Pyle was also named Class 5A Player-of-the-Year by both Vype Magazine and Sports in Kansas. The Wichita Eagle named her first team All-State while the Capital-Journal placed Pyle on the second team All-State. Pyle was also the AVCTL Division III Most Valuable Player.
  • Kassidy Beam, also just a junior, finished second to Pyle in scoring with 338 points or 14.6 per game, while connecting on a team leading 64 three-pointers. As for post-season awards, Beam made All-AVCTL Division III first team, Sports in Kansas first team All-Class 5A, second team All-Class 5A by both Vype Magazine and the Wichita Eagle, third team All-Class 5A in the Topeka Capital-Journal and honorable mention Class 5A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association.
  • Cassie Cooks, a senior and signee with Graceland University, also earned first team All-AVCTL Division III while making second team Class 5A for both Sports in Kansas and Vype Magazine. Cooks was also named honorable mention Class 5A by both the Wichita Eagle and the Topeka Capital-Journal. For the season, Cooks finished third in scoring for the Lady Bullpups with 228 points, while being second in rebounds with 141.
  • Senior Lakyn Schieferecke returned to play in 17 games and earned honorable mention AVCTL Division III and Class 5A by the Wichita Eagle.
  • Senior Emma Ruddle, despite the leg injury, managed to play in 13 games which was enough to earn second team All-AVCTL Division III and an honorable mention Class 5A by the Wichita Eagle.

Others who played key roles throughout the season was junior Emma Malm along with sophomores Lauren Labertew, Ella Schmid and Peyton Howard.

Saying goodbye to the four hard working seniors in Cassie Cooks, Emma Ruddle, Lakyn Schieferecke and Andrea Sweat could be tough as the four finished their Lady Bullpup careers with an overall record of 87-9 while going 45-5 during home games at the Roundhouse.

What the team will count on is the return of super juniors Kassidy Beam and Grace Pyle, along with a solid core of sophomores and an incoming group of talented eighth graders.

Coach Strathman looked toward the 2020-21 season as he concluded his post-season reflections and noted, “We will return our two leading scorers in Grace Pyle and Kassidy Beam, while also returning several others who had really good seasons for us. Emma Malm was a starter for us until she injured her hamstring and I think she will have a great senior season. Lauren Labertew, Ella Schmid, and Peyton Howard are the sophomores who played the most and all will step into bigger roles next season. We will be deep and talented in the backcourt, so a big key for us will be developing some inside scoring and defense on the interior.”

MCPHERSON LADY BULLPUPS 2019-20 STAT LEADERS:

Leaders in Points Scored {Avg}: Grace Pyle 361 {15.7}; Kassidy Beam 338 {14.6}; Cassie Cooks 228 {9.9}; Emma Ruddle 106 {8.2}; Lakyn Schieferecke 84 {4.9}.

Leaders in 3-Pointers Made: Kassidy Beam 64; Grace Pyle 49.

Leaders in Rebounds: Grace Pyle 191; Cassie Cooks 141; Lauren Labertew 71; Kassidy Beam 57; Lakyn Schieferecke 55.

Leaders in Assists: Grace Pyle 94; Kassidy Beam 41; Lakyn Schieferecke 37; Emma Malm 33.

Leaders in Steals: Grace Pyle 68; Kassidy Beam 33; Emma Ruddle 29; Lakyn Schieferecke 28; Lauren Labertew 26.

Leaders in Blocked Shots: Grace Pyle 28.

{Post is SPONSORED by CrossDove Writers}

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