By Staff          

            MCPHERSON – The 2023 McPherson Middle School 8th grade boys basketball team began their season this week with a pair of road games, making a clean sweep of Salina Lakewood on Tuesday before losing a pair to Derby on Thursday.

            On Tuesday the 8th grade Junior Pups ‘A’ team scored a nine-point, 33-24 win over Salina Lakewood led by Cole Cooper and Ashton Malm with 15 and 10 points, respectively.

            “It was nice to be able to go on the road and open the season with a win,” noted head coach Tyler Brown. “We held Lakewood to just 24 points and it was a pregame goal to keep them at 35 points or below. Meeting a goal like that usually ends up in a ‘w’ at the middle school level. Cole (Cooper) and Ashton (Malm) were big for us in the scoring column by scoring 75% of our points. We need a few more guys to step up and be a little more aggressive on offense. The team is learning two new offenses for the first time this year, so the flow of offensive things was a little off at times and we were slow to get into our sets. Once they master the movement of the two offenses, this team can have a special season. They just need to trust the system and trust each other and make the correct basketball play.”

            In the ‘B’ team game the Junior Pups pulled out a one-point, nail biting win, 22-21.

            No player reached double digits as Ben Bocox led the team with six points while Dane Becker had five and Will Domingo scored four.

            “We got an exciting win tonight,” said ‘B’ team coach Goerzen. “Even though our guys are still working to fully understand and execute our playbook, they did a great job giving full effort and working hard tonight. The game remained close all four quarters. We eventually found ourselves on the free throw line with 0.1 seconds left on the clock and luckily, Jeyvonte Body sealed the win by draining the second of his two free throws.”

‘A’ Team (1-0) Scoring vs. Salina Lakewood > Cole Cooper – 15; Ashton Malm – 10; Cru Buchman – 3; Matt Burger – 2; Jones Emery – 2; Carter Bengtson – 1.

‘B’ Team (1-0) Scoring vs. Salina Lakewood > Ben Bocox – 5; Dane Becker – 5; Will Domingo – 4; Nolan Pearcy – 2; Fin Bauer – 2; Adrian Unruh – 2; Jeyvonte Body – 1.

            Back on the road Thursday at Derby, the 8th grade Junior Pups ‘A’ team suffered a 12-point, 38-26 loss.

            No Junior Pup reached double digits though Ashton Malm just missed with a team leading nine points.

            “Derby had everything we thought they would have,” commented Tyler Brown, head coach of the 8th grade Junior Pups. “Extremely big, athletic and physical, and we didn’t decide to match that toughness until the fourth quarter which was the only quarter we won, 10-8. When you play a team with those kind of intangibles, you have to come ready to battle. Out of both games tonight, Carter Bengtson is who I thought stood out. One of the shortest guys on the team, he was stealing passes and grabbing much needed rebounds. In big games like this you need that kind of effort from everyone and it may be a long season if they don’t start believing in what we are trying to run as we struggled to run our stuff whether it is our sets or just the offenses we have put in place. Defensively, when Derby shot a free throw, we could not box out and rebound. Northing worse than a team getting multiple chances to score every time down the floor. Even with that we still held them to 38 points which I typically like to try to hold teams to the mid/low 30’s, so we were not too far off that goal.”

The ’B’ team also suffered a loss with Derby winning by 13, 39-26.

Jonas Emery and Ben Bocox led the Junior Pups ‘B’ team in scoring with seven and six points, respectively.

“We had a tough loss against Derby,” noted ‘B’ team coach Goerzen. “We came out a little flat tonight and as a result it was hard for us to get anything going. We did not get a lot of good looks on offense, we had several turnovers, and probably the biggest issue tonight was getting out rebounded the entire game. One thing that was promising is that our guys never gave up, they kept fighting until the end of the game. Obviously, we have some work to do, but I know our guys are up for the challenge.”

‘A’ Team (1-1) Scoring vs. Derby > Ashton Malm – 9; Cole Cooper – 4; Carter Bengtson – 4; Cru Buchman – 4; Jonas Emery – 4; Dane Becker – 1.

‘B’ Team (1-1) Scoring vs. Derby > Jonas Emery – 7; Ben Bocox – 6; Jyvonte Body – 5; Nolan Pearcy – 5; Will Domingo – 2; Dane Becker – 1.

(The Staff covering McPherson County Activities can be reached by email at