PYLE, BEAM TO LEAD THE RETURN TO CLASS 4A

By William

MCPHERSON – The McPherson girls basketball program will make a return to Class 4A for the 2020-21 season after powering to a 22-1 overall record in 2019-20 and a run to the Class 5A final four before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the tournament.

Lady Bullpup Chris Strathman begins his 26th season as part of the program while marking season number 16 as the head coach.

In those 16 seasons leading the program, all that Coach Strathman has done is go 302-56 overall while dominating league play at a clip of 143-8 which includes league championships in each of the past 13 seasons.

When it came to post season play, Coach Strathman has taken the Lady Bullpups to four state championships in 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2018 while having them in the final four last spring. Strathman’s record in post-season play is 48-12 under his leadership.

The Lady Bullpups have a strong history which includes nine state championships, qualifying for the state tournament in 25 of the past 28 seasons, and winning a league championship in 23 of the past 26.

To keep those gaudy numbers rolling, Coach Strathman will need to replace several key individuals including Lakyn Schieferecke, Emma Ruddle, Cassie Cooks and Andrea Sweat.

Fans may not need to worry too much as McPherson does return two top starters including the magnificent Grace Pyle, a five-foot-ten senior and team director Kassidy Beam, a five-foot-six senior, plus a fiery sparkplug part-time starter and key substitute in Emma Malm, a five-foot-three senior.

Coach Strathman and staff will also have seven juniors to help pick up the rest of the venue, all of whom saw varsity time to various degrees in 2019-20.

Then you add in sophomore Alexis Dukes and freshman Karter Alvord, both who measure out at five-foot-eight of versatile opportunity for playing time.

Looking toward the 2020-21 season Coach Strathman reflected on it all by noting, “Our expectations remain high as we enter the season as our girls are extremely anxious to get rolling and we hope to be able to play the entire season out and see what happens about making another long run in the post-season.”

While the coronavirus has already caused one rescheduling situation, the Lady Bullpups will open the season on Tuesday, December 8 when they play host to Newton before going on the road on Saturday, December 12 to Andover.

Here is a season preview of the 2020-21 McPherson Lady Bullpups:

OPENING 2 WEEKS OF THE SEASON:

  • Open the season on Tuesday, December 8 when they host Newton
  • Saturday, December 12 – on the road at Andover
  • Tuesday, December 15 – at home hosting El Dorado
  • Friday, December 18 – at home hosting Dodge City

WHAT DOES COACH CHRIS STRATHMAN BRING TO THE BENCH?

  • Head Coach Chris Strathman will be in his 16th season at leader of the McPherson Lady Bullpups.
  • Coach Strathman has been with the McPherson girls program for 26 years.
  • In 2019-20 Coach Strathman led the Lady Bullpups to a 22-1 season record, 10-0 in league play making them league champions and then they were in the Class 5A Final 4 when the pandemic shut everything down.
  • Coach Strathman has a career overall record of 302-56.
  • Coach Strathman has a career league record of 143-8.
  • Coach Strathman in his career is 48-12 in the post-season.
  • Coach Strathman is assisted by Katelyn Loecker, Jeremy Elseth and Tim Ellet

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT THE LADY BULLPUPS BASKETBALL PROGRAM:

  • The McPherson Lady Bullpup basketball program has won Class 4A state championships nine times including once back-to-back and once three years in a row.
  • Seasons the Lady Bullpups were State Champions are 1981, 1982, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2018.
  • In 25 of the past 28 seasons, the Lady Bullpups qualified for the state tournament.
  • In 23 of the past 26 seasons, the Lady Bullpups have won their league title and that includes the past 13 consecutive seasons.

WHO DOES NOT RETURN FOR THE MCPHERSON LADY BULLPUPS?

  • Lakyn Schieferecke, a three-year starting point guard who is now playing at Washburn University.
  • Emma Ruddle, a two-year starter at guard who is now attending Fort Hays State University.
  • Cassie Cooks, a two-year starter who is now playing volleyball at Graceland University in Iowa.
  • Andrea Sweat, a former starter who missed her senior season due to injury and is now playing at Washburn University.

WHO DOES RETURN FOR THE MCPHERSON LADY BULLPUPS?

The McPherson Lady Bullpups return two starters plus one part-time starter:  

RETURNEES & NEWCOMER(S) THAT MAY SEE PLAYING TIME?

Among the other returnees that Coach Strathman is counting on to contribute are:

  • Peyton Howard, a 5’9” junior forward.
  • Lauren Labertew, a 5’6” junior guard.
  • Marissa Pearcy, a 6’0” junior forward.
  • Cameron Pelzel, a 5’8” junior forward.
  • Ella Schmid, a 5’5” junior guard.
  • Emily Whorton, a 5’8” junior guard.
  • Harper Smith, a 5’6” junior guard.

Among the newcomers that Coach Strathman says could see some playing time:

  • Alexis Dukes, a 5’8” sophomore guard.
  • Karter Alvord, a 5’8” freshman guard.

WHAT COACH STRATHMAN IS SAYING ABOUT THE UPCOMING 2020-21 LADY BULLPUP SEASON?

GENERAL OUTLOOK:

  • “Our expectations remain high as we enter the 2020-21 season.”
  • “We return several key players from last year’s 22-1 team that qualified for the Class 5A Final Four.”
  • “Last season we beat several highly regarded teams on our way to that 22-1 record, including Andover Central, Derby and Kansas City Piper.”
  • “At the state tournament we were able to get past Basehor-Linwood in the first round and were all set to challenge four-time defending champion St. Thomas Aquinas when the pandemic shut down the season.”

REFLECTING ON KEY LOSSES AND POSSIBLE NEWCOMERS:

  • “Our girls are so anxious to get rolling with our season, and we hope to be able to play the entire season out and see what happens.”
  • “Our schedule for the 2020-21 season is very difficult and that should prepare us well for our postseason.”

OVERALL OUTLOOK FOR THE 2020-21 SEASON:

  • “We did move down to Class 4A for this season, but we know all about the challenges that we will face regardless of what classification we are in.”
  • “The schedule includes some very high-level Class 5A and 6A teams as it was put together with a Class 5A postseason in mind.”
  • “This schedule may saddle us with a few losses along the way, but it will prepare us greatly for what is hopefully a deep run in the Class 4A postseason in March.”

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