MCPHERSON — McPherson's response to falling behind by 12 points early against Derby on Saturday wasn't to play catch-up. It was to turn on its defense and let the offense come as a result.
Derby's answer to the game's new direction took awhile. But the Panthers made the game's two biggest defensive plays and beat McPherson 58-50 in the semifinals of the McPherson Invitational basketball tournament.
Late in the fourth quarter, Derby's Jabril Richardson stripped Jack Pyle under the basket when it appeared Pyle would have an easy basket. Derby got a steal on McPherson's next possession. It led to a basket that gave the Panthers a 54-47 lead with 58 seconds to go. Derby sealed it with four free throws in the final seconds, giving McPherson its first loss.
"They kept coming at us," said Derby coach Ryan Herrs, a former All-State player at McPherson. "They did chip away. But what I'm proud of is that our guys could have looked at that and said, 'This is it, we had a good shot and we can't battle back now.' But they didn't do that. They stayed right there and never let the game get away from them."
A Pyle basket would have answered a three-pointer by Derby's Kyler Steadman that broke a 47-47 tie with two minutes to go. Instead, Richardson got the steal and Cameron Cornelius scored to put the Panthers ahead by five. Eleven seconds later, Richardson converted a fast-break basket after a Derby steal near midcourt.
" (Pyle) got by me and Jabril came up and stripped him," Cornelius said. "Then (on the next play) he got a layup too and that's when they called a timeout, so that was a big momentum changer. We knew we had to keep it up. Keep them out of the inside and make our free throws."
Derby scored the game's first 12 points with a versatile attack that included two Zack Steadman three-pointers and baskets in the paint, including one by Cornelius.
The Panthers became careless after that, allowing McPherson to rally by committing turnovers that led to McPherson baskets. The Bullpups made quick work of their deficit — which grew as high as 13 points — by taking a 20-19 lead with 4:24 to go in the second quarter.
McPherson led 28-25 at halftime and scored half those points off turnovers.
"Coach always talks about going full throttle," Richardson said. "We always start off good and then we let up. We just have to figure out how to stay on the gas when we're tired. Twelve to nothing, that's a big lead, especially in the first quarter. So we just have to keep stepping on the gas."
Derby committed four turnovers in the second half but couldn't gain any traction offensively until late. They used their physicality to keep the Bullpups off balance.
"We're not that physical," McPherson coach Kurt Kinnamon said. "We're not big and strong, and they are. I would prefer a finesse game, I suppose, but it was what it was."
Pyle scored 29 points and was the only consistent McPherson scorer. Christian Ulsaker scored 13 points but missed 12 of 17 shots. The Bullpups missed all 11 of their three-point attempts and everyone but Pyle combined to make 9 of 41 shots. Derby was more balanced, with six players scoring at least seven points.
"I expect that coming in, that McPherson, no matter what you do to them, is going to give you a run or several runs at some point," Herrs said. "And they did... they put a nice run on us and came back and took the lead. But our guys showed some resilience. They withstood the run and took it and we were able to make our own little run late."
Derby17 8 12 21 — 58 McPherson9 19 13 9 — 50
DERBY: Tucker 8, Z. Steadman 12, K. Steadman 7, Richardson 12, Harrison 2, Cornelius 10, Cornejo 7. Totals 23 (4) 8-11 58.
MCPHERSON: Fawl 4, Horton 2, Hart 2, Pyle 29, Ulsaker 13. Totals 19 (0) 12-16 50.
BV Northwest 55, Maize 41 — BV Northwest taking an early lead was the worst scenario for Maize, who couldn't keep the Huskies from controlling the clock.
BV Northwest's patient offensive approach helped it shoot 68.8 percent, making 22 of 32 shots. The Huskies took a 9-7 lead with 4:24 to go in the first quarter and led the rest of the way.
"I didn't think we matched their intensity until a little bit into the second quarter," Maize coach Chris Grill said. "I thought we did a better job halfway through the second quarter of bringing our level up, but we've got to do that from the start."
No BV Northwest player took more than seven shots and Brett Fisher led the Huskies with 15 points. The balance was due to BV Northwest's ball movement. Several passes preceded nearly every shot, and most possessions resulted in a Maize defender being caught out of position and the Huskies converting an easy basket.
The only quarter in which BV Northwest missed more than two shots was the second, when it made 4 of 8. That's also the quarter Maize made the biggest dent in its deficit, turning a 10-point Huskies lead into a four-point advantage.
The Huskies' deliberate pace forced Maize to play patiently on defense, and the Eagles may have been worn down by following BV Northwest's multiple passes.
"You can't start taking chances against them because they take care of the ball," Grill said. "You get yourself out of position and you give them an opportunity. When you give them an opportunity, they're going to make you pay for it."
The game was delayed during the second quarter when Maize senior cheerleader Katie Flippo fell on her head during a tumbling routine. Flippo didn't appear to move before she was carried off on a stretcher.
Flippo was taken to McPherson hospital. Her condition was not immediately available. Maize athletic director Marc Haught said Flippo was being evaluated but had movement in her fingers and toes.
BV Northwest17 12 16 10 — 55 Maize7 15 11 8 — 41
BV NORTHWEST: Brashears 9, Hatchett 4, Smith 8, Fisher 15, Hooks 3, Bugarinovic 10, Bond 4, Lang 2. Totals 22 (5) 6-6 55.
MAIZE: Sturgeon 3, Langley 4, McCarthy 11, Hammack 5, Davis 3, Schultz 11, Lee 4. Totals 15 (3) 8-14 41.
North 75, Lawrence Free State 55 — North turned a fast-paced shootout into a defensive showcase by holding Free State scoreless for the final 5:54 of the losers bracket game after the Firebirds cut North's lead to 62-55.
Free State rallied in the third quarter behind the three-point shooting of Evan Manning, who led a 27-point third by making five three-pointers. Free State outscored the Redskins 27-18 in the third and made 11 of 16 shots.
North led by as many as 20 before Free State began to cut into the lead, whittling it down to seven three times during the fourth quarter. But a Josh May basket with 5:54 to go was Free State's final notch on the scoreboard. Four minutes later, the Redskins were benching their starters with a comfortable lead.
Manning's five three-pointers in the third quarter matched the first half total of North's Conner Frankamp, who finished with a game-high 23 points. Brison White scored 17, Briston White tallied 14 off the bench, and point guard Chekiel Wright added 13.
North evened its record at 5-5 after losing in the quarterfinals to Blue Valley Northwest. In that game, the Redskins shot 25 percent in the first half and struggled offensively until the fourth quarter. They rebounded Friday by making 32 of 55 shots, better than 58 percent.
North (5-5) 21 19 18 17 — 75 Lawrence Free State (4-6) 13 9 27 6 — 55
NORTH: Tolliver 2 0-0 4, Brison White 8 1-2 17, Frankamp 9 0-0 23, Wright 4 2-2 13, Robertson 2 0-0 4, Briston White 7 0-2 14, Dukes 0 0-0 0, Kemp 0 0-0 0, Henderson 0 0-0 0, Holloway 0 0-0 0, Kinder 0 0-0 0. Totals 32 (8) 3-6 75.
FREE STATE: Hassig 1 0-0 3, Watson 4 0-0 9, Manning 5 0-0 15, Ruder 1 2-2 4, May 6 0-1 12, Schneider 0 0-0 0, Heline 1 0-0 2, Frantz 1 0-0 2, Scott 0 1-2 1, Allen 0 1-2 1, Bonner 3 0-0 6, Hoag 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 (7) 4-8 55.
BV West 66, Buhler 40 — The game was tied 22-22 late in the first half, but BV West began to pull away at the end of the half and continued to extend its lead in the third quarter.
Johnny Dee scored 28 points for BV West on 12-of-19 shooting. He helped the Jaguars shoot better than 51 percent (30 of 58). Buhler was led by Brandon Givens, who scored 10 points. BV West scored 27 points on 21 Buhler turnovers.
Buhler12 12 7 9 — 40 BV West13 21 24 8 — 66
BUHLER: Torgerson 5, Lohrentz 5, Massey 7, Bohren 2, Pankratz 4, Temel 6, Givens 3, Allen 6, Neuway 2. Totals 12 (3) 13-18 40.
BV WEST: Warren 6, Morris 2, Visk 10, Childress 2, McMakin 2, Haden 15, Dee 28, Epps 1. Totals 30 (1) 5-13 66.