By William

MCPHERSON – When you go through the rocky road of high-powered teams like the McPherson girls basketball team had to in post-season play, and then add in losing three seniors to graduation, it would not be surprising if a head coach would be less excited about next season.

But most coaches are not Coach Chris Strathman, a wonder of teaching the game of basketball to each of his teams and his leadership is the main reason the Lady Bullpups have been to the state tournament 26 of the last 29 seasons.

This season, the Lady Bullpups played the number four, two, five and one ranked teams in Class 4A on their way to finishing up as runner-up in Class 4A, losing to powerhouse Bishop Miege in the state championship game.

Before we get to the season overview by Coach Strathman, let us talk about the coach himself.

Coach Strathman has been the head coach now for 16 seasons and served as an assistant coach for 13 seasons before that, that is 29 seasons.

Overall, Strathman is now 323-60.

Now let us hear from Coach Strathman about the recent season while also getting a quick peek at what he has coming back for the 2021-22 season.

HOW DID YOUR TEAM FINISH THE SEASON OVERALL?

For the 2020-21 season the Lady Bullpups finished 21-4 overall and 10-0 in AVCTL play, winning the league title for the 14-consecutive season. The girls also qualified for the state tournament for the 26 time in the past 29 seasons.

Among the high points of the season were taking the championship in the Mid-America Classic, taking the Sub-State championship, and finishing runner-up at the Class 4A state tournament.

WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE 2020-21 SEASON?

Coach Strathman had several moments during the season which he highlighted, including:

  • “I would say our most satisfying regular season win was definitely in our Mid-America Classic Title game over Dodge City because they had beaten us in December and our Mid-America Classic win over them was their only loss of the season until they got beat by Topeka High in the Class 6A state quarterfinals.”
  • “Our other great regular season win was at Derby as they have college prospects all over the floor and three players standing six-foot-three, so we really had to compete.”
  • “Our postseason run was as tough as it could possible have been, as we had to go on the road to Nickerson to win the sub-state title, and Nickerson was ranked fourth in Class 4A right behind us. Then we had to on the road again to Clay Center for our state quarterfinal game. Clay Center was unbeaten and ranked second in 4A. Then we played fifth ranked Louisburg in the state semifinals before playing top ranked Bishop Miege in the state championship game.”
  • “I am not sure any other team has ever faced that kind of stretch in the postseason – especially considering we had to beat Nickerson and Clay Center on the road.”

WHAT PLAYERS AND PRODUCTION WILL THE TEAM LOSE?

Coach Strathman noted the Lady Bullpups will lose three seniors and they each have earned many post season honors during their career. They are:

  • Grace Pyle, a 2-time All-AVCTL first team and league Most Valuable Player.
  • Kassidy Beam, a 2-time All-AVCTL first-team selection.
  • Emma Malm, chosen second team All-AVCTL this season.
  • “I expect both Grace (Pyle) and Kassidy (Beam) to garner some postseason Class 4A honors and awards with Grace getting some All-State, All-Class honors as well.

TAKE AN EARLY LOOK INTO THE 2021-22 SEASON AND TELL US WHAT YOU SEE?

When asked about taking a peek at next season and how the Lady Bullpups will look roster wise, Coach Strathman mentioned several players that the team will build around and several players he is expecting to pick up the where the graduating seniors left off.

  • Peyton Howard has been a full-time starter this season and was named second team All-AVCTL.
  • Lauren Labertew was also a full-time starter this season and was named honorable mention All-AVCTL.
  • Cameron Pelzel will return as another post player for the Lady Bullpups.
  • Ella Schmid gained valuable experience off the bench this season and will be looked to for much more production in 2021-22.
  • Karter Alvord also gained valuable experience coming off the bench this season and will counted on next season to give us much more production both offensively and defensively.
  • Others looking to impact the team after having success on the junior varsity this season will be Emily Whorton, Harper Smith, Alexis Dukes and Madi Moors.

OUR FINAL REFLECTIONS:

While it may appear that losing the caliber of players like Pyle and Beam will hurt the chances for next season successes, the Lady Bullpups are led by a master of teaching the game in Coach Strathman and we have no doubt that by the time we hit mid-December in 2021, McPherson girls basketball will be rolling along once again.

{McPherson Bullpup Postings are SPONSORED by CrossDove Creations}