MCPHERSON — McPherson junior Casyn Buchman doesn't remember the circumstances following her three-pointer from the left wing with 2:33 to go in the first quarter.
She pleaded short-term memory loss as to why she couldn't recall the specifics leading up to it or the emotion following it.
McPherson coach Chris Strathman had no problem remembering the three.
"It was just enormous," he said.
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Buchman's shot gave McPherson the lead for good in its 41-24 victory over Beloit on Friday in the semifinals of McPherson's Mid America Classic. McPherson will play top-ranked Olathe South, a 57-32 winner over Salina Central.
Before Buchman's basket, McPherson had struggled against Beloit's zone defense. In the first quarter, the Bullpups were 1 of 11 from the floor, including 0 for 5 from three-point range, before Tanner Hein hit a three-pointer with 14 seconds to go in the period. It wasn't much better in the second, as the Pups missed their first six shots, including two threes.
"They were mainly in a zone, and when they slowed it down, it threw our rhythm off," Buchman said."... Our shots weren't falling in the first quarter."
"We were settling too early in possessions for threes," Strathman said. "(Thursday night Katelyn) Loecker had half our points, and (Beloit was) trying to take her away.... We just settled too much."
Buchman hit that three-pointer, though, and suddenly it all changed for McPherson.
They forced a turnover on Beloit's next possession and got a putback from Loecker on an offensive board.
Beloit coach Dallas Cox called timeout, but the Trojans were called for a travel shortly after play resumed, and this time it was McPherson's Sarah Gaeddert who had a putback. She then stole the ball on Beloit's ensuing possession, and Buchman scored on the fastbreak to cap the 9-0 run for the 22-14 lead.
That run took all of 1:27, but it was the key to the game. After those baskets, McPherson gained confidence in its offense, it was able to institute its pressure defense more effectively, which disrupted Beloit into 22 turnovers.
"We knew we'd have a chance to speed them up," Strathman said. "We got our press going and forced turnovers."
"We take pride in our defense," Buchman said. "Pressure defense really gets us going. We get steals and turnovers, then we get easy baskets."
In the third quarter, McPherson blew out Beloit, holding the Trojans scoreless until the 1:25 mark en route to a 37-19 lead after three periods. In that second half, Beloit was 3 of 12 from the floor and only had three rebounds.
McPherson junior Andrea Nowak had nine points, one of her best games, while Loecker led McPherson with 11 and Buchman had 10.
"I thought we executed out of our zone offense and got the things we wanted," Strathman said of the third quarter."
Beloit6 10 3 5 — 24 McPherson10 12 15 4 — 41
BELOIT: Pahls 6, Porter 3, Kruse 5, Engelbert 8, Mealiff 2. Totals 10 (1) 3-4 24.
MCPHERSON: Nowak 9, Hein 3, Bomberger 2, Buchman 10, Bruner 2, Gaeddert 2, Loecker 11. Totals 15 (3) 8-11 13.
Buhler 63, Hays 56 — Buhler had a bit of an up-and-down game. Or maybe it was down-and-up.
Buhler started slowly, trailing 20-11 at the end of the first quarter, but then the Crusaders turned it up, rallying for a 33-31 lead at the half. It was their first lead since the early moments of the game at 2-0.
"We needed that," Buhler coach Brennan Torgerson said. "We were a little flat, and we needed a spark. Defensively, we kind of got to where we needed to be with our press. We got some easy baskets that really helped us and we finally got some momentum.... Getting that two-point swing at halftime was huge."
The third quarter was more of the same, as Buhler raced to a 52-37 lead.
And then came the next downswing.
Hays went on a 19-4 run, sparked by Paige Lundsford's 10 points, to get within 57-56 with 1:28 to go.
"We lost focus," Torgerson said. "They came out and pressed us a little bit.... We weren't adjusting to what they were doing defensively and... we allowed them to get back into the game."
Buhler missed five straight free throws during Hays' run, but in the final 50 seconds, McKenzie Pankratz hit two free throws, as did Stephanie Patterson. Patterson finished with a game-high 20 points, hitting 12 of 13 free throws.
Lundsford led Hays with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Buhler11 22 15 15 — 63 Hays20 11 6 19 — 56
BUHLER: Sasse 2, Winter 2, K. Patterson 2, Pankratz 6, Goertzen 6, S. Patterson 20, Dunning 7, Williams 7, Woodard 2, Gawith 2. Totals 17 (2) 27-41 63.
HAYS: Lundsford 15, Wickham 7, Pfiefer 8, Gagnon 4, Steffen 3, Pfannienstiel 12, Schmeidler 7. Totals 15 (5) 21-35 56.
Olathe South 57, Salina Central 32
Salina Central7 3 8 14 — 32 Olathe South17 21 12 7 — 57
SALINA CENTRAL: Michel 2, Kinder 5, Parker 1, McMillan 2, Briggs 5, Wiggins 3, Bennett 8, Cooper 3, Bujanda 3. Totals 10 (2) 10-20 32.
OLATHE SOUTH: Palu 6, M. Balcom 2, K. Balcom 14, Bell 5, Rinehart 12, Knight 16, Mgbike 2. Totals 22 (2) 11-14 57.