Bullpups' boys basketball numbers are staggering

By Steve Sell
November 24, 2015

Kansas City Wyandotte still holds the Kansas boys basketball record for state championships with 20.

But honestly, the Bulldogs haven’t been much of a factor on the big stage since 1985. They have won only one state championship since then, that coming in 1998. Only four titles have come since 1970, a 45-year span. They did a lot of their damage during the Walt Shublom era in the 1950s and 1960s, as he is on the Mount Rushmore of Kansas basketball coaches.

Former arch-rival Newton — which ended its series with MHS a few years back when the schools went to different levels in the AVCTL — has won 13 state championships. But not since sharpshooter David Piehler was filling it up for the Railers in 1979 have they tasted the sweet championship nectar.

Some might think Bishop Miege, with all its girls basketball success, would be dominant on the boys’ side as well. But the Stags have only two championships to their credit, though they’ve gone out and added pieces this year to get back to the championship circle and out of their girls’ shadow.

That leads me to believe McPherson High is the gold standard for Kansas boys basketball, especially given its remarkable consistency. With their second straight championship last year, the Bullpups have won 10 state titles just since 1990 when they ended a 16-year drought after having gone back-to-back-to-back in 1972-73-74 for a total of 13.

It’s tough to argue the Bullpups’ numbers. With their spotless 25-0 record last year — 48-1 over the last two — MHS is now 1,322-417 since 1937. That means it has won every three out of four times it has stepped on to the court in the last 78 — that’s right 78 — years.

I have covered the Bullpups since the 1979-80 season and since then MHS has had only one losing record — and that was barely as the Bullpups were 10-10 during the 1982-83 regular season before losing in the sub-state opener.

Even more impressive is the Bullpups’ home record as it’s jaw-dropping. Since MHS has played in the Roundhouse, it has won 542 games and lost only 92 (.852). Adding the years when games were played at what is now-McPherson Middle School, it is 706-142 (.758). Needless to say, few schools enjoy a homecourt advantage quite like the Bullpups. Since 1937, they have had a winning record at home every season.

Maybe the most amazing stat of all, MHS has had only five (5!) coaches since 1937 and one of those, Harold Johnston, coached just one year in which he was 3-16. One has to wonder what happened that year since MHS has not had a record remotely close to that since.

Johnston had succeeded Jack Randle, who was 310-158 in his 19 years. Following the one-year hiccup, Jay Frazier came along and built on what Randle had started. He was 409-160 during his 26 years and was one of the most revered and beloved coaches in Kansas history. He presided over the Bullpups' trifecta and they nearly made it four in a row, losing in the 1975 state title game.

Mike Henson then took over and the Bullpups began to take the dynasty to new heights. Henson’s supernova tenure, while only 12 years, produced an unfathomable 250-34 record, including four state titles and three runner-up finishes.

At the height of his success and with a state championship team looming, Henson decided to coach in Germany and turned the program over to Kurt Kinnamon, who has kept the tradition going with 405 wins and just 70 losses, earning six state titles — including one in his very first year to get himself in the good graces of Bullpup fans, who have come to expect no less.

Even though MHS returns only two starters this year and has just four seniors, there’s a terrific crop of underclassmen who will do their best to continue the legacy. The beat goes on for the Bullpups.