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No. 1-ranked Bullpups end Panthers season with runaway win
McPherson and Great Bend battle for a rebound during first-quarter action Saturday night at Salina South during a Class 5A sub-state championship game. - photo by Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune

SALINA — Entertaining the hopes of an upset special, Great Bend High School trimmed a nine-point halftime deficit to six points and had the basketball midway through the third quarter.
The fifth-seeded Panthers definitely had some momentum on Saturday night during the Class 5A sub-state championship at Salina South against the top-seeded and top-ranked McPherson Bullpups.
But McPherson took the momentum right back, putting together a 10-1 run during the final four minutes and 10 seconds of the third quarter and streaked past the Panthers for a 57-28 victory.
“We had our opportunities and we had our chances,” Great Bend head coach Chris Battin said. “But McPherson flexed their muscle and showed why they’re definitely the No. 1 team.
“They did a good job of weathering any run that we had and in the second half they kind of just pulled away.”
While McPherson (21-1) enters this week’s state tournament as the favorite, Great Bend had its season come to a close with a 12-10 record.
The knockout punch was delivered courtesy of the inside-outside combination of 6-foot-6 senior post player Christian Ulsaker and 6-1 senior guard Jack Pyle.
With the score at 31-25, Great Bend’s Jace Bowman had a 3-pointer from the right wing spin out and McPherson cleared the rebound. Ulsaker started the surge with back-to-back baskets, and Pyle followed with three straight to cap the 10-0 run and expand the gap to 41-25.
Will Gray of the Panthers finally stopped the bleeding, making 1 of 2 free throws to end the third quarter.
McPherson then scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter, let the air out of the ball by stalling for nearly three minutes and walked away with the win.
Pyle finished with a game-high 23 points, hitting eight field goals and 6 of 7 free throws, and Ulsaker totaled 18 points, hitting seven shots from the floor and adding 4 of 6 foul shots.
“They’re incredibly difficult to defend,” Battin said. “They’ve got really good players and they space you out really well and they play really hard.
“They’re just a good basketball team. We cut it to six there in the second half and we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Seniors Greg Hildebrand and Cameron Casey led the Panthers with 11 and seven points. Hildebrand had three field goals and made all five of his free throws.
Junior post player Roderick Frise finished with five points.
The Panthers had an up-and-down season where they improved down the stretch. Highlighting the campaign was a tiebreaking 3-pointer by Hildebrand at the buzzer to beat Hays at home in January, along with an overtime victory at 6A Manhattan, a triple-overtime win over Liberal and an opening-round sub-state triumph over Hays.
“It’s been a good season and the kids played hard every night,” Battin said. “They will definitely have some memories from their triple-overtime win and another overtime win.
“Being able to beat your rival at sub-state, those are memories they will never forget.”

Class 5A Sub-State
Basketball Tournament
At McPherson
McPherson 57, Great Bend 28
GREAT BEND (12-10)

     Matt Marshall 0 0-3 0, Jace Bowman 0 0-0 0, Greg Hildebrand 3 5-5 11, Cameron Casey 2 2-2 7, Jeff Pike 0 0-0 0, Will Gray 1 1-2 3, Dakota Ellis 0 1-2 1, Roderick Frise 2 1-2 5, Wyatt Bayless 0 1-2 1, Sam Hafner 0 0-0 0, Connor Sell 0 0-0 0, Brock Ibarra 0 0-0 0. Totals 8 11-18 28.
McPHERSON (21-1)

     Marcus Houghton 0 0-0 0, Luke Reber 0 0-0 0, Kevin Spencer 1 0-0 2, Chase Miller 0 0-0 0, Cory Horton 1 0-0 2, Jordan Hart 2 1-1 5, Jack Pyle 8 6-7 23, Parker Hambley 1 0-2 2, Travell Robinson 2 0-1 4, Lukee Moore 0 0-0 0, Cody Cape 0 1-2 1, Christian Ulsaker 7 4-6 18. Totals 22 12-19 51.
Great Bend    10     9     7     2    —    28
McPherson    16    12    13    16    —    57

   Three-point goals — McPherson 1 (Pyle); Great Bend 1 (Casey). Totals fouls — McPherson 19, Great Bend 18. Fouled out — Ellis.