Free State boys pick off McPherson to take third place in tournament

McPherson ­– The Free State boys basketball team closed out the McPherson Invitational with a 62-56 third-place victory over host McPherson on Saturday afternoon at McPherson High School.

The Firebirds (7-3) made enough key shots late in the fourth quarter to oust the Bullpups (9-3), who finished 1-2 in the tournament after losing against Manhattan in the semifinals and against FSHS in the third-place game.

“I felt like it was a team victory,” FSHS coach Sherron Collins said. “We had four guys in double figures and everybody played a part in tonight’s win.”

Starting out the game, both teams went back and forth, but it was the Firebirds leading 15-12 after the opening eight minutes, as they started out strong offensively with several players contributing in the early going.

In the second quarter, McPherson clawed its way back and eventually tied the game up heading into halftime at 31-31, despite Free State continuing to put pressure on the stout Bullpups defense.

Despite each team playing strong offensively throughout the first half, defensively is where the game was won. Both teams stepped up their intensity entering the second half.

The Firebirds made more shots down the stretch and went into the fourth quarter up 45-42 against the Bullpups.

In the fourth quarter, McPherson had opportunities to overtake the Firebirds, but FSHS got several late baskets and eventually put the game away, ending its McPherson Invitational journey with a 2-1 record.

Free State next plays Shawnee Mission North Tuesday night at home, in its first home game since Jan. 6. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.


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