The eye contact was made. All that was needed was the execution.
The Abilene defense thought that McPherson High's Mason Alexander was going to take the last shot at the end of the third quarter here Tuesday, but instead threw a lob to Ben Pyle, who slammed it home.
That play gave MHS a 54-48 lead and the impetus to close out the Cowboys 71-55 after the game had been tied at 36-all at the half.
"I did think that was a good momentum change for us," said MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon, whose team is now 2-2 and avoided the first 1-3 start in 35 years. "What made that play is Thomas (Diggs) set a really good screen on the back side. Everybody knows when you go 1-4 flat you know what we're going to do and we're going to screen in and get a shot in the corner. We have a little counter to that and Mason made a really nice pass on that and Ben obviously got up and got it. That's a nice weapon to have, somebody who can go up and get the basketball."
The two also had a combo dunk earlier in the game where Alexander threw the ball off the backboard and Pyle threw it down, another crowd-pleasing moment that gave the team an emotional lift. He had four dunks on the night.
The scoring firm of Pyle, Alexander and Alexander made its presence felt. Pyle finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds after a rocky start as he had only 7 points at the half. Mason Alexander added 20 and 7 assists while Jake Alexander had his much-anticipated breakout game with 21, including 3 first-half 3-pointers that helped MHS overcome an early 8-0 deficit at the start of the game.
"I thought defensively in the first half we did not do a good job," Kinnamon said as Abilene shot a tick under 60 percent. "We didn't get in a stance, we didn't move our feet. We gave up straight line drives to the basket and consequently it's tied at the half. We've got to be better defensively than that."
MHS, after launching 16 3-pointers in the first half, put the long ball in the pocket in the second half with just three attempts.
"I thought offensively overall we were pretty good," Kinnamon said. "We looked at the first-half stats and we had shot 24 attempts and we had shot 16 3s. I told them, luckily we shot a high percentage but that's a recipe for disaster. We have to be able to score some easier baskets, whether that's in transition or being able to get to the rim and finish. Luckily we were able to make some of those shots."
Ryan Wilson led Abilene with 17. The physical Cowboys were whistled for 28 fouls, sending MHS to the line 34 times, making 24.
It was a struggle for the MHS JV boys as they fell to the Cowboys, 45-37. Jace Kinnamon led the Bullpups with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
The freshmen used a big 20-point fourth quarter to rally for a 51-45 victory. MHS was down 35-31 going into the final period.
Cooper Courtney had a big game on the interior with 17 points and Thatcher Lopez supplied 11.
MHS (71) — Labertew 1-3, 1-6, 3; M. Alexander 5-10, 7-8, 20; Jk. Alexander 4-8, 10-10, 21; Diggs 0-2, 0-0, 0; B. Pyle 8-4, 6-8, 23; Seidl 1-1, 0-0, 2; Jay. Alexander 1-2, 0-0, 2. Totals — 20-40, 24-34, 71. 3-pointers — M. Alexander 3, Jk. Alexander 3, Pyle 1.
Abilene (55) — Veach 0-1, 0-3, 0; Wilson 6-16, 3-4, 17; Wildey 3-3 0-0, 9; Robinson 3-4, 3-8, 9; Base 3-5, 2-2, 8; O'Neal 0-0, 2-2, 2; Wildman 4-12, 2-5, 10. Totals — 19-41, 12-24, 55. 3-pointers — Wildey 3, Wilson 2.
MHS JV (37) — Stufflebean 4, Hoover 9, Wiard 3, Myers 2, Kinnamon 11, Ky. Hoppes 3, Trost 5.
MHS 9th (51) — Kb. Hoppes 6, Richardson 6, Schmid 8, Lopez 11, Koehn 2, Courtney 17, S. Pyle 1.