TOWANDA, Kan. - Thanks to the heroic efforts of Jude Warren, McPherson's quest for an AVCTL Division III league title will have to wait.
Just weeks after setting a school record with 46 points against Clearwater, Warren topped it, dropping 50 points in a 16 point upset to hand McPherson just their 5th loss.
Mac came in having lost just one game since an 0-3 start, and the beginning of Friday's game made it feel like they'd keep the winning up. The Bullpups jumped out to a 9-1 lead, forcing Circle coach Bo Horyna to use an early timeout. Whatever he said must have worked, as coming out the T-Bird hit three triples to tie the game at 10. Warren then hit a circus shot falling to the floor to give them their first lead and prove they were there to play.
The teams traded buckets for much of the rest of the half, until a Warren three gave Circle a 30-28 lead late in the second quarter. They never looked back from that point forward.
Warren had 21 in the first half, then 35 through three quarters. It felt like the entire gym knew what could possibly happen. After missing a pair from the line early in the fourth, Warren strung together 3 buckets to put him at 41, with the 50 mark well within reach. After hitting another bucket, he made four straight from the stripe including two to put him at 47, setting the school record.
But he wasn't finished. Showing no quit, he got by the defense, going up and under for the layup to put him at 49. The student section was getting behind him, chanting 'one more shot!' knowing what was coming. He got that final shot, just at the line following a technical foul call on McPherson.
The first free throw missed, but he wouldn't miss the second, hitting the 50 point mark, and more importantly leading his team to a big home upset of a ranked opponent.
Warren finished an astounding 16/20 from the field, making 13 free throws and five shots beyond the arc to get to the 50 point mark. He also wasn't the only T-Bird to hit double figures, with Matt Kramek dropping 12 and Eli Jacobson 11 to contribute to the big win.
McPherson will now need to beat Augusta Tuesday night for the league title, but will need help if they hope to host games at the Roundhouse for sub-state. The loss drops them to 6th in the Class 5A standings.
The win for Circle is their 10th of the year, and they'll look to continue the momentum with road games against Buhler and Winfield to end their season ahead of sub-state.