McPHERSON — North coach Gary Squires analyzed his team’s first nine games, five of them losses, and found two major problems — poor shooting and a failure to share the basketball.
North had no such issues Thursday night in its 73-63 upset win over McPherson, the previously unbeaten top seed, in the first round of the McPherson tournament.
North (5-5) hit 20 of 38 shots, 6 of 15 three-pointers and had 10 assists.
“We made the extra pass like I’d been telling them in practice the last couple weeks,” said Squires, whose team will play Free State at 8:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. “And we played unselfish basketball and shared the ball well and we got the ball inside.”
In the first period, North hit 4 of 7 threes and 9 of 13 shots. Senior Tristyn Villa hit 3 of 3 threes in the period and finished with 15 points.
By the midpoint of the second quarter, North had a 32-9 lead. McPherson was stunned. Coach Kurt Kinnamon had expressed concern about North for just this reason, but North had not shot as well all season.
Even more important for North is it answered when McPherson made its run.
McPherson got within 59-50 with 3:14 to go after Kyler Kinnamon got a steal and made two free throws. The Bullpups trailed 69-61 with 56 seconds to go.
North, which was led by Tarius Williams’ 28 points, hit 27 of 33 free throws and also outrebounded McPherson 34-17, including 20-5 at the half. Sean Bernard added 14 points and Zach Beard had 10 rebounds.
“They just shot the ball so well,” Kurt Kinnamon said. “When they shoot it well and we don’t, and we shoot 26 threes and 25 twos, and we didn’t shoot it as well as usual, that’s a recipe for not being very successful.”
Kyler Kinnamon finished with 22 points, and teammate Peter Horton had 18.
Dunham’s spot as a celebrated athlete, though, didn’t keep him from diving on the floor for a loose ball in the third quarter and hitting the game-tying jumper seconds later.
“Jeremy knows how to win,” Derby coach Brett Flory said. “He’s a warrior, and he’s tough. He made some unbelievable plays down the stretch. That loose ball down by (Blue Valley West) Coach (Donnie) Campbell’s bench was the play of the game in a lot of ways.”
Dunham scored a team-high 28 points, scoring eight in the second overtime. He also had a block and two rebounds in the second OT.
Derby (8-3), which came back after trailing 22-9 after one period, will play Shawnee Mission East at 6:30 p.m. in the semifinals. Derby beat SM East 62-57 in the Class 6A third-place game in March.
“If your best players are willing to give their bodies up, then no one else has any excuse,” Flory said. “He was terrific in that respect.”
Derby’s Keaton Steadman hit 5 of 7 threes and had 19 points, while Nyjee Wright and James Conley each had 13 points. Derby made 32 of 38 free throws.
Derby struggled with BV West’s Blaise Gammon, a 6-foot-8 junior, who scored 34 points in regulation and had 15 rebounds.
“It was just a huge learning experience for us,” Dunham said of the win. “We needed that. We’re a pretty young team so it’s huge for us.”
Jace Williams led Buhler with 10 points.
North 73, McPherson 63
Derby 95, BV West 90
SM East 52, Carroll 36
Free State 67, Buhler 25