You won't find many games better than that.
In their long-awaited return to the Roundhouse here Tuesday, McPherson High's boys had to be at their very best to outlast arch-rival Buhler 68-61 before an electric crowd that nearly filled the grand old stage.
It was a matchup of No. 2 against No. 3 — and there could be two more. The teams meet the final night of the regular season in Buhler and are in the same sub-state, along with No. 5 Hays — with Ulysses the host.
Buhler's effort would most likely had been good enough against anybody else, but MHS was just a sliver better.
"Two teams playing hard, that's what makes high school basketball fun," MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said.
The Bullpups, in moving to 7-1, had to overcome the most adversity they had faced this year. They had to play much of the first half without All-Stater Drew Pyle due to foul trouble, yet still were up 34-31 at the break as sophomore Ben Pyle was immense with 15 points.
"Ben was a nice, steadying influence and he handles the ball so well," Kinnamon said. "He's tough to contain and he's angular. When they would trap, he was tall enough he could see over it. We executed a lot of stuff well and that's fun to see. I don't want to play Ben 32 minutes, I don't. But he did a great job of sucking it up and showed a lot of toughness."
Once Drew Pyle came back in the second half, the Bullpups started to open up some space. The third quarter ended with MHS 10 points up, 53-43, but Noah Webster and the Crusaders wouldn't go quietly into the night. After getting down as many as 14 with 5:54 left, they summoned one last gasp and got as close as five, but no more.
"Jacob Loecker came up with eight rebounds. You look at the statistics and we win the battle of the glass (29-16)," Kinnamon said. "Huge key. They had zero offensive rebounds in the first half."
Drew Pyle wound up scoring 14 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and little brother Ben added 18, along with seven rebounds and four assists. Spenser Wine provided that much-needed third scorer with 13 points and battled Buhler's super athlete Jace Williams all night. Williams scored 12 points, 10 of those during an individual burst in the third quarter.
Webster was fabulous for Buhler with 18 points and seven assists as he's come light-years from the time he was a sophomore. He simply couldn't be contained off the bounce. Dylan Brown, who will be heard from in the future, came off the bench to score 11.
The MHS JVs suffered a rare loss, especially at home, 55-43. An 18-6 first quarter led the Crusaders to the win. Kyler Hoppes' 10 points led MHS.
The ninth-grade boys used nice balance to pull away from the Crusaders, 65-49.
Brandon Wilson led four players in double figures with 17 points. Chandler Wiard furnished 11, while Noah Avila and Jace Kinnamon scored 10 apiece.
MHS (68) — McDaniel 1-3, 2-2, 5; Loecker 14, 2-5, 4; D. Pyle 7-13, 6-6, 21; B. Pyle 5-8, 6-7, 18; Wine 4-10, 5-6, 13; Labertew 1-1, 1-2, 3; Brossard 0-1, 0-0, 0; Jk. Alexander 1-2, 0-0, 2; Seidl 1-1, 0-1, 2. Totals — 21-43, 22-29, 68. 3-pointers — B. Pyle 2, McDaniel 1, D. Pyle 1.
Buhler (61) — Lackey 3-6, 0-0, 8; Smyres 1-1, 0-0, 2; Webster 6-14, 3-4, 18; Wedel 1-2, 0-0, 2; Williams 4-5, 4-6, 12; Van Dyke 1-4, 0-0, 3; Dylan Brown 3-5, 3-3, 11; Dalton Brown 2-3, 0-0, 5. Totals — 21-40, 10-15, 61. 3-pointers — Webster 3, Lackey 2, Dylan Brown 2, Van Duke 1, Dalton Brown 1.
MHS JV (43) — Labertew 5, Jk. Alexander 5, Hoppes 10, Malm 2, Spaich 8, Leaf 3, Williams 2, Js. Alexander 2, Gerbrandt 6.
MHS 9th (65) — Wiard 11, Wilson 17, Hoppes 6, Hoover 7, Kinnamon 10, Avila 10, Trost 4.