We’re barely into January, but Tuesday’s McPherson High basketball games at Augusta will be the last on the road for the month.
They’re also the last games of the first round of Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division III play as both Bullpup teams are hoping to finish 5-0 in the first go-around.
The girls tip off at 6 p.m., with the boys to follow. Join Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole for the call on 96.7 KBBE-FM, coming on the air approximately 5:55.
The MHS girls are riding a wave, as they have won five games in a row and are 7-1 overall. They are coming off a 58-45 victory over Circle, handing the T-Birds their first loss of the season.
Augusta is 2-2 in league play, with the losses to Circle and Buhler.
“Augusta played a good Circle team to a very tight game right before Christmas so we know they are capable,” MHS coach Chris Strathman said. “We also struggled last year at their place, so hopefully we can play much better tomorrow night. It will be important to continue getting off to good starts, and to be able to handle and attack pressure much better than we have been. We are looking to play a solid four quarters tomorrow night on both ends of the floor.”
The Orioles have one of the better players in the league, Strathman said.
“They do return a sophomore that was All-League last year in Jayden Marlnee,” he said. “She is very good at getting to the basket and the foul line as well. She is a tough and smart player, so that will be the key matchup for us defensively.”
MHS welcomed back Taylor Robertson last Friday after she had missed Tuesday’s game against Buhler. One day after being cleared to practice because of a broken finger, she authored a 30-point, 8-rebound performance, while Mandi Cooks scored 15 and added 10 rebounds.
For the third straight game, McPherson’s boys will be facing a team with a towering inside presence. Jonny Clausing, a 6-8 junior, is the Orioles’ standout.
“Augusta has that one thing that most teams we play don't and that is a 6-8 player,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said of Clausing. “They run most of their offense to get him the basketball. (Chance) Whitehead is quick and athletic and (Zach) Barclay is back after not playing last year and he is a good offensive player at 6-4.”
Augusta always seems to give the Bullpups some problems on its home court and with its size it’s going to be imperative for MHS to find its shooting form. It was just 2 of 16 from 3-point and 16 of 29 at the line on Friday in the 62-52 win over Circle. Ben Pyle had a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Mason Alexander chipped in with 16 points.
With the win, MHS improved to 5-3 overall as it’s looking to cobble together its first three-game winning streak of the season.
After Tuesday, the MHS teams do not play another road game until Feb. 7 at Great Bend as the Bullpup teams play five games in a row at home, including three in their respective tournaments.