You probably have to go back to 2011 to find a better opponent for the McPherson High boys.
When the Bullpups take on Blue Springs South at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Hy-Vee Shootout on the campus of Avila University in Kansas City, Mo., they’ll be facing what was the very best team in the state of Missouri last year — with a number of those components back.
“We are really excited about playing,” said MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon, whose team has won its first four games of the season to extend its winning streak to 44 games overall. “This may be the best team that we have played in the last three years anywhere.”
The Jaguars conjure up memories of the 2011 Wichita Heights team that outlasted the Bullpups in the finals of the McPherson Invitational and featured now KU star Perry Ellis and key WSU complementary player Evan Wessel.
The Bullpups’ 63-50 victory over state-ranked Abilene last Tuesday was like a mid-term, but the Jaguars will be like taking a final.
“That team is big,” Kinnamon said of Blue Springs. “These guys (Abilene) were a light snack compared to some of these guys we’re going to see. It’s going to be a whole different animal that we’re going to face in Kansas City. From a quickness standpoint, they’ve got a guard who has signed with the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a big kid that Missouri is recruiting to play football. They’re just very, very good.”
Blue Springs South was 29-2 last year and won the Class 5 Missouri state title with a 71-57 victory over Park Hill South. The Jags have not missed a beat this year and on Tuesday they were a 71-60 winner over Liberty behind 33 points by blur-like point guard KJ Robinson and 14 by Briley Moore-McKinney, a 220-pounder who is a sledgehammer on the inside. It is an experienced team, as it will suit up eight seniors against the Bullpups, who have only four and one of those, Spenser Wine, won’t play due to injury.
No matter what happens on Friday, Kinnamon said his team will be the better for it. For one, it won’t play a better team all season and the experience it gains will be invaluable.
“It is a neat experience to be on TV and get to play in a different state,” Kinnamon said.
This is the final time MHS will be competing in Kansas City as its four-year contract runs out and tournament officials will be rotating in new teams. There could come a day when the Bullpups return, but it won’t be in either of the next two years.