McPherson High’s boys basketball team has been in the Class 4A Division I state championship game the last four years.
Judging by the Bullpups’ 52-19 demolition of Class 6A Hutchinson in Monday night’s championship game of the McPherson College Summer League, a fifth straight appearance in the finals is a definite possibility.
MHS won state titles in 2014 and 2015. If not for the Miege All-Stars of the last two years, the Bullpups could be looking at four straight championships.
The Bullpups showed Monday they have the potential to be devastating. The Salthawks, who are in a rebuilding mode under first-year coach Ted Webster, were simply frazzled by MHS’ trapping defense and length. Probably half of the Bullpups’ baskets came directly off their defense.
Kurt Kinnamon has won six state titles at MHS and knows this year’s team could be special. After all, it’s the same as last year’s as he had no seniors.
Ben Pyle appears primed for a monster season. He’s one of the most unique players in MHS history as despite being 6-7, he has guard skills — which makes him the object of college recruiters. He averaged more than 20 points his junior year and would appear to be a lock for that again this year. He has a myriad of moves around the basket and can get his shot about anytime he wants it.
Mason Alexander will be back to direct the offense. He’s a scoring point guard, but did a good job of distributing the basketball on Monday. He’ll also be on a lot of recruiting lists.
Jake Alexander, expected to be the only junior starter on the senior-laden team, is stronger and perhaps more explosive. Along with his cousin and Pyle, the troika could combine for about 55 points a game.
What will make MHS better than last year is the improvement of Drew Labertew and Thomas Diggs. Labertew does so many things that go unnoticed by the average fan and Diggs is all about hustle. They are both bigger and stronger and help give this Bullpup team a maturity that goes unmatched.
Kinnamon will have a solid bench. He employed 10 players on Monday, as others who contributed were Jayce Alexander, Kyler Hoppes, Jace Kinnamon, Gabe Hoover and Cody Stufflebean. Not available were Wyatt Seidl and Aron Trost and that makes a dozen.
The Bullpups play their usual tough schedule this season. The highlight is a road game Dec. 8 at Miege, which many believe will be a preview of the state championship game. The Stags routed MHS at the Roundhouse last year, but the Bullpups were right there in the championship game until Miege’s size and talent took over.
The Stags do have to replace some key players, the most notable being Semaj Ray, Landry Weber, Francesco Baddochi and Joseph Gleason. But they’ll revolve around Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Ezekiel Lopes and Joshua Early and knowing coach Rick Zych, there will be a newcomer or two who will make an impact.
Andover Central certainly will be very good, but when you look at the other teams that made state last year and the players they lost, it still looks like MHS and Miege are at the head of the class.