By William / www.mcpherson-county-ks.com
MCPHERSON – The McPherson Lady Bullpup basketball team has been a program of model consistency as they have won their league title in twenty-four of the past twenty-seven seasons which includes the past fourteen seasons consecutively.
On top of dominating their league, the Lady Bullpups have qualified for the state tournament in twenty-six of the last twenty-nine seasons and in 2020-21 they lost in the Class 4A championship game.
After finishing 21-4 overall and unbeaten at 10-0 in league play last season, Chris Strathman begins his 17th season as the McPherson head coach knowing he will have to find replacements for three graduating seniors who have all advanced to college careers.
Replacing all-state and all-Class 4A recognized Grace Pyle along with all-Class 4A Kassidy Beam and distinguished collaborator Emma Malm could be trouble for many teams, but not so for the Lady Bullpups as they return two solid starters along with six others who saw plenty of varsity competition last season.
Peyton Howard will be the senior leader in the front court while Lauren Labertew will give the Lady Bullpups senior guidance in the backcourt. They will be joined in the starting lineup from amongst a group of three seniors, two juniors and a sophomore who all earned varsity time in 2020-21.
Coach Strathman has also mentioned his excitement about five newcomers including junior guard Chloe Clevenger who is transferring in from Doniphan West High School where she was an honorable mention all-Class 1A Division I player as just a sophomore.
McPherson could be tested early as they open the season with a road trip to Dodge City and will close out the first month of the season with a pair of road tests including playing Blue Valley in Kansas City and going to Buhler just before the Christmas break.
Hosting the annual Mid-America Classic at the end of January will again be a challenge for the Lady Bullpups as they will host Clearwater, Manhattan, Marysville, Olathe South, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Shawnee Mission South and Wichita Northwest for the three-day event.
According to Coach Strathman, “This year’s team will hopefully be able to fly under the radar a little bit as we are not returning near the offensive firepower that we have been accustomed to having for the last several years.”
Heading into the 2021-22 season Coach Strathman made it clear what the Lady Bullpups may have to count on when he noted, “We are going to be a team that will have to rely on our defense, rebounding, ball security, and shot selection.”
Here is a complete summary of the upcoming 2021-22 season for the McPherson Lady Bullpups:
LADY BULLPUPS OPENING MONTH OF THE 2021-22 SEASON =
Friday, December 3 = at Dodge City
Tuesday, December 7 = at Newton
Friday, December 10 = host Andover
Tuesday, December 14 = host El Dorado
Saturday, December 18 = at Blue Valley in Kansas City
Tuesday, December 21 = host Buhler
LADY BULLPUP HEAD COACH CHRIS STRATHMAN =
This will be season # 17 for Chris Strathman to be on the bench as the Head Coach and season # 27 to be involved coaching with the Lady Bullpup program.
Coach Strathman is 323-60 overall while holding a 153-8 record in league play and a post-season mark of 52-13.
In 2020-21, Coach Strathman guided the Lady Bullpups to a runner-up finish in the Class 4A state tournament after going 21-4 overall and 10-0 in Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League play.
In the twenty-seven season which Coach Strathman has been working with the Lady Bullpup program, they have won their league title 24 times, including the last fourteen in a row.
Coach Strathman will be assisted on the bench by:
- Katelyn Loecker
- Jeremy Elseth
- Courtney Heinen
LADY BULLPUPS WHO GRADUATED/TRANSFERRED =
The Lady Bullpups lost three key starters to graduation:
- Grace Pyle – Was an All-Class 4A and All-State selection and now plays for Pittsburgh State.
- Kassidy Beam – Was an All-Class 4A selection and now plays at Tabor College.
- Emma Malm – Now plays at Tabor College.
KEY RETURNING LADY BULLPUPS FOR 2021-22 =
The Lady Bullpups return two starters:
- Peyton Howard – a 5’9” senior forward
- Lauren Labertew – a 5’6” senior guard
Other players returning with varsity experience:
- Cameron Pelzel – a 5’8” senior forward
- Ella Schmid – a 5’5” senior guard
- Emily Whorton – a 5’8” senior guard
- Ella Buschbom – a 5’7” junior forward
- Alexis Dukes – a 5’8” junior forward
- Karter Alvord – a 5’8” sophomore forward
INCOMING PLAYERS TO PAY ATTENTION TO =
Lady Bullpup coach Chris Strathman mentioned five newcomers to the varsity this season to keep an eye on, including a transfer.
- Chloe Clevenger – a 5’4” junior guard transfer from Doniphan West High School where she earned honorable mention honors in All-Class 1A, Division I
- Madison Moors – a 5’8” sophomore guard
- Reanna Eilrich – a 5’9” sophomore forward
- Jayla McLeod – a 5’9” sophomore forward
- Alex Romero – a 5’5” sophomore guard
WHAT COACH STRATHMAN HAS TO SAY =
Hopes for the beginning of the season:
- “This year’s team will hopefully be able to fly under the radar a little bit as we are not returning near the offensive firepower that we have been accustomed to having for the last several seasons.”
What the Lady Bullpups will have to rely on during the season:
- “We are going to be a team that will have to rely on our defense, rebounding, ball security, and shot selection. We must have all of those components working in order for us to compete with the really good teams on our schedule.”
Coach Strathman thoughts on the Lady Bullpups roster:
- “I love the group of girls that we will get to work with. I think some of them are ready to step forward in a big way after being supportive yet key role players for a couple of seasons. Production form our sophomore varsity newcomers and especially our transfer player (Chloe Clevenger) will also be a big key toward any success we might have this season.”
Looking at the upcoming schedule and challenges of playing in Class 4A, Coach Strathman explained:
- “The field for our Mid-America Classic Tournament is as strong as ever as all three of the Kansas City area schools will be strong this season. Clearwater comes to our tournament for the first time, and they will have a very solid squad as well. In Class 4A, there will be some outstanding teams again this year, highlighted by Bishop Miege of course. The top contender in Class 4A from our area will be Andale while Louisburg will be strong after making the final four in 2020-21. The year is full of really good teams with many experienced players.”