MHS' basketball tradition is stunning

By Steve Sell
December 02, 2016

I thank the Good Lord every day that when I was seeking employment after graduating from college in 1979, I was dropped into high school basketball heaven.

McPherson High basketball fans, we have been ridiculously spoiled. And for a long time.

Let’s start with the boys. The Bullpups have not had a losing record since the 1982-83 season, which was the year after Brad Underwood had played his final game for the Bullpups if you need a timeline refresher. Even that year it was a sub-state loss that put the Bullpups under .500 (10-11) in what was Jay Frazier’s final year.

All Frazier did in his 26 years at McPherson was win 409 games and lose 160 for 72 percent — and he’s a distant third in winning percentage.

Along came Mike Henson for what many call the most golden of the golden age of McPherson basketball. Henson lasted 12 years and won 250 games while losing only 34 for 88 percent.

That was a mark I thought would never be challenged. But now comes Kurt Kinnamon who after 71 wins in his last 74 games has barreled his MHS record to 428-72 in 21 years, which is an 86-percent mark. 

Lest I forget, it all started with Jack Randle, who from 1937 to 1956 won 255 games and lost 131 for 66 percent — there’s a lot of schools that would gladly take that.

In all, McPherson’s boys have won 13 state championships and finished second 11 more times.

Have we even talked about how dominant the team has been at home? Just look at this:

• Randle — 122-35

• Frazier — 230-63

• Henson — 136-9

• Kinnamon — 229-29

McPherson boys fans have been treated to home victories 718 times and witnessed just 143 losses since 1937. That works out to a win five of every six home games for 83 percent.

And you wonder why I say we’re spoiled.

And not forget the girls. After coach John Hoffman led the Bullpups to back-to-back state championships in 1981 and 1982, there was a bit of a drought.

But then along came Scott Schaefer and Chris Strathman. In Schaefer’s career, the Bullpups won 272 games and lost 43. There’s been no dropoff when Strathman moved up as he’s gone 215-47. That’s 487 wins and 90 losses in the last quarter century, or 84 percent.

The girls have won eight state championships, meaning the school has combined for 21 state titles. There’s a lot of schools out there that have never experienced one from its two teams total.

So that’s why we’re spoiled. We’re not expecting a whole lot to change this year as Kinnamon’s boys and Strathman’s girls are expected to be among the best teams in the state. They’ll certainly be tested with a relentless non-conference schedule that provides few nights where the Bullpups can get by with less than their best. The Division III teams could provide a bit of hurdle, but don’t expect many losses there.

McPherson fans, be thankful. We’re the envy of a lot of fans around the state.