Huge road tests for MHS on Tuesday

By Steve Sell
December 05, 2016
Kendall Shaw

McPherson High basketball coaches Kurt Kinnamon and Chris Strathman have heard all the hype about Friday’s “Games of the Century” at the Roundhouse when legendary Bishop Miege comes to town for the most heralded regular-season matchup in decades.

But neither is thinking about the Stags right now.

That’s because MHS goes on the road for the first time on Tuesday as the Bullpups will take on Class 6A Derby, whose boys and girls are both being considered state championship contenders in Kansas’ biggest class.

Tipoff is 6 p.m. with the girls, with the boys to follow. Join Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole for all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM beginning with pre-game at 5:50.

It will be the first action of the season for the Panthers, while both MHS teams are coming off running-clock routs of El Dorado.

“Derby has some tremendous athletes,” said Kinnamon, whose team was a 58-26 winner over El Dorado on Friday. “Nyjee (Wright) will be the best point guard that we face this year. He has great quickness and can hit the 3. Kenyon Tabor (a KU football commit) is a physical presence that we have to keep off the glass. They surround their athletes with good shooters. We have to keep them out of the lane on dribble penetration.”

Expect the Panthers to come out with incredible intensity, especially since the football players on their team are coming off a recent state championship and it’s their home opener.

“Derby plays a frenetic, trapping style, so it is important that we take care of the ball and attack their pressure,” Kinnamon said. “Only turning the ball over 10 times in our first game is really good. Especially considering three of the turnovers were charges. I thought overall we did a nice job in most areas for the first game.”

Ben Pyle had the first of what could be many double-doubles with 28 points and 14 rebounds, while Jake Alexander furnished 12 points. The Bullpups will still be without Mason Alexander, who has one more game to sit out due to the transfer rule.

The Bullpup girls will have a tall order as they try to shut down 6-6 sophomore star Kennedy Brown and have good players to go with her.

“They are going to be a great test for us tomorrow night on the road,” said Strathman, whose team strolled to a 67-23 victory over El Dorado. “We have talked mostly about their very talented point-post sophomore duo of (Tor’E) Alford and Brown. They have good players around them as well that we can't sleep on.”

MHS’ standout post player Mandi Cooks will be giving away nearly half a foot to Brown.

“Brown is listed at 6-6 and is being recruited by a ton of Power-Five D-1 teams. Very good hands and just a nice post player for her age,” Strathman said. “Alford is very good at penetrating to score or dish, so we must keep her out of the paint as that just also makes everyone else better when she breaks down the defense. The girls are really looking forward to the challenge and seeing how we stack up with one of the best in 6A.”

Taylor Robertson scored 28 points, including six 3-pointers, to lead MHS in its opener, while Cooks had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals.