After about two and a half minutes of play in the nightcap of the 24th Mid America Classic in McPherson, the host Bullpups finally broke a scoreless tie. Riley Hett hit a triple, then another, and McPherson looked like it was about to end the game early.
But Southeast just wouldn't lie down. With Jaila Harding leading the way, Southeast stuck with the favored home team for the first 8 minutes. A Harding three tied the game at 12, with a late Bullpup free throw giving them a lead through one.
But in the second quarter things changed in a hurry. Coach Chris Strathman made a switch, rolling with a lineup featuring five players off the bench. The bench group might have been the spark McPherson needed, as the Bullpups rolled to a 23-6 quarter and doubled up the Golden Buffaloes at halftime, 36-18. From that point it was smooth sailing for the Pups, starting out the tourney with a 67-39 win.
In total, 30 of McPherson's 67 points came off the bench, and Strathman played 10 players at least 9:15 of game time.
Earlier in the day, unbeaten Olathe South opened up with a 20 point win against Valley Center. The Hornets held Olathe South to just 5 second quarter points, trailing at half by just 5. But after half the Falcons locked down, outscoring Valley Center 24-9 for a 51-31 win.
The second game looked to be perhaps the best matchup on paper. 4 seed Manhattan facing 5 seed Wellington, both teams entering the tournament with a three in the loss column. But it was a dominating second and third quarter that was the difference in this. Manhattan scored 50 points to Wellington's 20 in the middle two frames, forcing a running clock before a 81-51 blowout win.
The 30 point spread in game two was more than either team scored total in game three. Neither Ulysses nor Dodge City could get anything going offensively as Ulysses struggled to a 29-24 victory. Ulysses shot just 25% from the floor, enough to beat the Red Demons' 22%.
Friday's semifinals will feature Olathe South facing Manhattan at 6:00 to get things started, with host McPherson taking on Ulysses in a battle of 1 loss teams to end the day.