MCPHERSON – For the 2022-23 season the McPherson girls basketball program is looking for another run at a state title after finishing the 2021-22 season unbeaten once again in AVCTL III (Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League – Division III) with a 10-0 record but only 15-8 overall while losing in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.
Among the history of the Lady Bullpups is banners marking the winning of nine state titles going back to 1981 while the last state title came in 2018.
Once again, providing leadership for the Lady Bullpups will be Chris Strathman who heads into his 18th season as head coach carrying a spectacular career record of 338-68 with a 163-8 mark in league games and 54-14 in post-season action while also earning four state titles. Overall, it is Strathman’s 28th season on the Lady Bullpup sidelines as he served as an assistant coach for 10 seasons. Assisting Strathman for the 2022-23 season will be Katelyn Loecker, Jeremy Elseth, and Courtney Peirce.
A note of the strength and endurance of the Lady Bullpup program comes from the fact that they have qualified for the state tournament in 27 of the last 30 seasons while winning a league title in 25 of the past 28 seasons including the last 15 consecutive seasons.
One thing that Strathman will need to do is replace three starters from the 2021-22 season as Lauren Labertew Ella Schmid and Peyton Howard. Both Labertew and Howard were varsity starters for three seasons while Schmid was a starter last season after spending two seasons as a key off-the-bench player.
“We graduated three players off of last season’s roster,” noted coach Strathman. “Two of them have moved on to play sports at the collegiate level as Lauren (Labertew) plays soccer at Fort Hays State University and Ella (Schmid) is playing volleyball at Kansas Wesleyan.”
What Strathman and the staff will have to work with is two returning starters in senior Chloe Clevenger and junior Karter Alvord. Clevenger is a five-foot-six guard and Alvord is a five-foot-eight forward.
McPherson will have six other returning players with solid varsity experience in seniors Alexis Dukes – a five-foot-eight forward, and Ella Buschbom – a five-foot-seven forward, along with juniors Reanna Eilrich – a five-foot-nine forward, Jayla McLeod – a five-foot-nine forward, Madi Moors – a five-foot-eight guard, and Alex Romero – a five-foot-five guard.
Speaking of the returnees, Strathman said, “We are returning several key players that were able to gain a lot of varsity experience last season. (Chloe) Clevenger, (Madi) Moors, and (Karter) Alvord will lead our perimeter play while the rest of the players will contribute where and as needed. It will be interesting to see which players step up to be consistent performers. (Reanna) Eilrich saw significant time as a backup post player as did (Jayla) McLeod. The rest of our bench is pretty untested when it comes to varsity, but we feel we have several that can contribute in a big way.”
The coaching staff is extremely excited about incoming freshman Ava Romero, a five-foot-seven guard along with senior transfer Jordan Sears, a five-foot-nine forward.
Strathman speaks of high praise for transfer Jordan Sears, adding, “Jordan (Sears) was with us last season but was unable to play varsity due to transfer rules. She has lived in McPherson her entire life but was homeschooled for four years and when she came back to McPherson High, they treated her like a transfer student without a bona fide move. Needless to say, that was frustrating as she showed in practices and junior varsity competition to know that she could have a really good senior campaign. Sears will play both inside and outside as she can score in a variety of ways and has already signed to played collegiately at Newman University in Wichita.”
Concluding his pre-season reflections, coach Strathman discussed the upcoming season outlook for Class 4A by saying, “Class 4A will have some outstanding teams again this season, highlighted of course by Bishop Miege. The other top contender in 4A will be Andale from our area as they return some outstanding players and athletes. I look for Wellington, Labette County, and Clearwater to be very strong again as well. Wamego had a very good showing last year and adds a really good freshman to their already strong team. Class 4A is wide open other than Bishop Miege, so it will be interesting to see how things unfold as we all fight for the opportunity to knock them off.”
The Lady Bullpups will open the 2022-23 season hosting Dodge City on Thursday, December 1 before going on the road Tuesday, December 6 to Derby. In late January when the Lady Bullpups host the Mid-America Classic Tournament, McPherson fans will get to see teams from Clearwater, Dodge City, Manhattan, Marysville, Olathe South, Valley Center, and Wichita Southeast.
Here is the entire 2022-23 Lady Bullpup Schedule:
Thursday, Dec 1 – host Dodge City
Tuesday, Dec 6 – at Derby
Friday, Dec 9 – host Andover
Tuesday, Dec 13 – host Buhler
Friday, Dec 16 – at Winfield
Saturday, Dec 17 – vs. St. James Academy in Kansas City
Friday, Jan 6 – host Circle
Tuesday, Jan 10 – at Augusta
Friday, Jan 13 – host Mulvane
Tuesday, Jan 17 – at Andale
Thursday-Saturday, Jan 26-28 – host Mid-America Classic
Friday, Feb 3 – at Wichita Collegiate
Tuesday, Feb 7 – host Hays
Friday, Feb 10 – host Winfield
Tuesday, Feb 14 – at Buhler
Friday, Feb 17 – at Circle
Tuesday, Feb 21 – host Augusta
Thursday, Feb 23 – at Mulvane
Wednesday-Saturday, Mar 1-4 – Sub-State
Thursday-Saturday, Mar 9-11 – State Tournament in Salina
(The Staff covering McPherson County Activities can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org)