McPherson High’s boys begin this basketball season just as they began last season.
Defending a state championship.
The two-time Class 4A Division I state champions take to the road Friday night to play El Dorado.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. Chris Swick will have the play-by-play call on 96.7 KBBE-FM.
The Bullpups are coming off a remarkable 25-0 season, only their third-ever perfect record among their 13 state championship teams. They currently are riding a 40-game winning streak.
But for this first game, the Bullpups return only one starter off last year’s team, 6-3 senior Drew Pyle. Another probable starter, 6-2 senior Spenser Wine, is sidelined until after Christmas as he recovers from a second straight shoulder surgery.
El Dorado could be a good team for the Bullpups to get their feet wet against. They will field an entirely new starting five after finishing last season with a 4-17 record. Jordon Regehr has taken over as head coach and has an inexperienced team that also is lacking some size.
“El Dorado does not return many players and they have a new coach,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “It is like facing the unknown for the first game.”
Kinnamon has some unknowns of his own that he’s dealing with. While there are some experienced players back, putting almost a brand-new starting five on the floor is something he hasn’t had to do recently.
Of course, Pyle is the hub as he should be an All-State All-Class candidate. He’ll be joined in the lineup by his sophomore brother Ben, who has sprouted close to 6-6. Sam Brossard, like Ben Pyle a 6-6 sophomore, is going to get the nod for Wine at the outset and Kinnamon likes his desire to get better.
Two key role players from last year, seniors 6-3 Jacob Loecker and 5-11 Marcus McDaniel, complete the first five. Loecker is assuming Nathan Nutter’s role as the unsung player who does all the dirty work, while McDaniel is going to handle the ball as it has belonged in the hands of All-State All-Class pick Kyler Kinnamon the past four years.
“I have been pleased with how well we have shot the ball thus far,” Kinnamon said. “The younger players have caught on very quickly for the most part. Defensively we are not where we have to be to be an elite team, but I think we are capable of getting there.”
Kinnamon has a wealth of juniors and sophomores to round out his bench as he believes the younger players will see a lot of minutes. While he believes the team could struggle early against tough competition — a road game at Abilene looms, along with a huge test in the HyVee Classic — the Bullpups have the capabilities to be playing on the day of the season in Salina.