Even though freshman Taylor Robertson is still kind of new to this high school basketball stuff, the McPherson sharpshooter showed a knack for impeccable timing Friday.
Robertson’s seven three-pointers and game-high 26 points helped the Bullpups edge previously unbeaten Andale 47-46 in the Mid-America Classic semifinals.
And it seemed like every one of her long-range shots carried extra weight for McPherson as it avenged a two-point overtime loss to Andale 10 days earlier.
“Whenever I shot it, my teammates got excited, and I always try to get excited for them as much as they do for me,” said Robertson, who tied a single-game tournament record for threes. “That just kind of built up the momentum.”
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Robertson made two threes in each of the first two quarters. Her second-quarter pair staked McPherson (9-3) to a 23-18 lead, an advantage the Bullpups surrendered only once when Andale tied the score late in the third quarter.
McPherson, which will play Olathe South in Saturday’s championship, couldn’t shake Andale (10-1), which got 13 points from Lauren Rowland and 12 from Rachel Friedrichs. Neither team led by more than five points and the Bullpups made just 6 of 12 free throws in the final quarter, a bugaboo that hindered them in their 45-43 loss at Andale.
But Robertson helped McPherson keep Andale at arm’s length. Her inbounds three from the baseline stretched the Bullpups’ lead to 31-27 in the third. Later in the quarter, after teammate Kamryn Collins fumbled the ball on a drive to the basket, McPherson picked it up and kicked it to Robertson, who hit a three for 34-31 lead heading into the fourth.
Robertson’s last three, a catch-and-shoot off a cross-court pass from the left wing, gave McPherson a 39-35 lead with 5:30 remaining.
“It was fun to watch,” McPherson coach Chris Strathman said. “A couple of her shots came off sets. A couple came off scrambles and loose balls where we just kicked it to her and she was ready to shoot.
“She was definitely ready to go.”
Still, Andale pulled within 47-46 with four seconds remaining on Jaiden Easter’s three. But with the Indians void of timeouts, McPherson let the remaining time evaporate to move on to the final.
Robertson’s point total was one off the tournament’s freshman record set by former Moundridge and Kansas State star Laurie Koehn in 1997.
“I just told the kids that if we had just done a few other things, we could have overcome that,” Andale coach Mark Kerschen said. “She was unconscious, and most of the time we were pretty close to her.”
Valley Center 53, Hays 36 – After leaving Valley Center coach Daniel Smith largely unimpressed over the first three quarters, the Hornets closed the game on a 19-2 run to advance to the fifth-place game.
“They finally responded to the challenge,” Smith said. “It’s the challenge that you give a team every time – play hard, get after it.”
Hays tied the score at 34 on Audra Schmeidler’s 10 seconds into the final quarter. From that point, Valley Center (5-6) scored the next 13 points. The Hornets broke the tie with Taylor Latimer’s basket and Kyli Webber’s three-pointer after Latimer failed to convert a three-point play.
Latimer finished with 18 points, while Webber added 13. Schmeidler scored 17 for Hays (3-9).
Dodge City 47, Southeast 35 – Southeast surrendered the game’s first 13 points and lost its ninth consecutive game. But the Buffaloes ultimately made Dodge City earn its first victory in five McPherson tournament games.
“I was so proud of them today,” Southeast coach LaToya Randle said. “Normally, when we get down like that, we give up.
“They fought hard the entire game, and for that, I’m proud of them.”
Guard Tia Bradshaw scored 19 points for Dodge City (6-5). Southeast, which trailed 25-15 at halftime, cut its deficit to 28-26 on consecutive baskets by Tori McCoy. But the Red Demons pushed their advantage back to 36-28 on Macie Price’s three-pointer right before the end of the third.
Alex Arline scored 11 points and Jada Williams added 10 for Southeast (1-11).
MCPHERSON: Wedel 6, Hoffman 4, Schieferecke 6, Robertson 26, M. Cooks 3, B. Cooks 2.
ANDALE: Easter 5, Meyer 7, Maxwell 9, Rowland 13, Friedrichs 12.
VALLEY CENTER: Weaver 6, Richter 7, Reeves 7, Webber 13, Klusener 2, Latimer 18.
HAYS: Kleweno 2, Schlaefli 9, George 6, Dinkel 2, Schmeidler 17.
DODGE CITY: Price 3, B. Bradshaw 2, T. Bradshaw 19, Maple 7, Harshberger 8, Nelson 8.
SOUTHEAST: McCoy 8, Arline 11, Christon 2, Jennings 2, Rentas 2, Williams 10.