Bullpup cagers host Great Bend on Tuesday

By Steve Sell
February 08, 2016
File Photo-Kendall Shaw

McPherson High’s basketball teams continue their string of games against bigger-class schools on Tuesday when they return home to take on Class 5A Great Bend, the second Western Athletic Conference opponent in as many games.

Game time is 6 p.m. for the girls, with the boys to follow. Catch all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Chris Swick on the call.

For the MHS girls, this will be another tough test. The Bullpups, who have played four straight Class 6A schools — three of them being ranked at some point — will have no bargain, according to coach Chris Strathman.

“They stand at 9-5, with four losses against very quality teams (Dodge, Manhattan, Lawrence Free State and Salina Central in overtime last week),” Strathman said. “They really execute all pieces of the dribble drive motion offense very well and we had problems guarding them at their place last season. Great Bend has a couple of good shooters that we must locate at all times. This will be a big character test for us again as we try to bounce back from Friday night.”

The Bullpups seemingly were in control against Dodge City, up 10 points late in the third quarter. But the Red Demons started raining 3-pointers and closed the game on a 9-2 run for a 45-39 upset, dropping MHS to 12-2 on the season.

Great Bend is coming off a 61-56 loss to Liberal and it was much like MHS’ game with Dodge City as Liberal closed the game on a 20-5 run. Carley Brack poured in 22 points for the Panthers and Lauren Welsch scored 20.

The McPherson boys also are coming off an uncustomary performance as they needed double-overtime to defeat a Dodge team that is now 5-9, 75-69. The Bullpups, however, showed character as they wiped out an 11-point Red Demon fourth-quarter lead.

Great Bend is not the same team as a decade ago when it won back-to-back Class 5A state championships (2005 and 2006), but is still plenty good.

“Another scary team that has good size and are streaky shooters,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “They have played several teams within 10 points. Cody Crosby is their best player and is a tough matchup as a 6-5 guard. Brayden Smith is also 6-5 and is an inside banger. Their guards are quick and they defend pretty hard.”

Great Bend was outlasted 60-57 on Friday by Liberal. Jacob Murray’s 18 points led the Panthers, whose record is a deceiving 3-11.

Every game is important for the Bullpups, who dearly want to secure the No. 1 sub-state seed. At 13-1, they appear to be in good shape, as Hays and Buhler are in pursuit, but are running out of time.