TOWANDA—The AVCTL D-III league belongs to McPherson as the Bullpups were victorious on Friday, defeating Circle High School 58-47, claiming the league title, and marking their 15th straight win.

Both teams were exchanging buckets early on, but the Bullpups led as high as five points before the Thunderbirds made it a one-point game. The Lady Pups relied on their press defense to create steals and put them in transition.

McPherson led 13-8 to end the quarter.

McPherson's offense didn't look too sharp, and Circle continued to make it a tight game, but the Bullpups' defense remained strong. The Bullpups landed back-to-back 3-pointers from both Jaycee Burghart and Emma Ruddle, giving the Bullpups a nine-point lead after reaching the two-minute mark. The offense got rolling with less than a minute left. Ruddle finished the second quarter strong, creating steals and making buckets as she and Riley Hett led with seven points, and McPherson led the Thunderbirds 28-16 at halftime.

Circle wouldn't go away quietly. The Thunderbirds went on a 9-0 run, only down 38-27 all the way through the fourth quarter.

After Hannah Hageman made her second 3-pointer to be up by 10 points, Circle responded with a corner-3 from Kimalee Cook to be down 45-38 with 4:09 left.

McPherson still held their own with less than a minute left. Circle reached over their foul limits.

The Lady Pups weren't at their best at the free throw line but made enough to capture their win. Grace Pyle was the Bullpups' top leading scorer for the fourth consecutive game as she finished with 15 points. Ruddle added some bench points with 13.

"It was great finish and great win for us," McPherson head coach Strathman said. "We told them at halftime that we know they're going to make a run at you, so we kind of withstood that, and then pull out again, and they will come at you again, and that's what kind of what happened. Overall, I thought we did a good job of maintaining our lead and hit enough shots."

Cowman was the Thunderbirds top leading scorer with 14 points, and Alyson Potter was second with 11 points.

McPherson originally was supposed to play the next day at Lawrence to take on Baldwin High School, but due to the inclement weather, the game got canceled according to the school. A makeup date has not been announced.

Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at pholland@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports