There was a time when McPherson High and Newton had one of the state’s best girls basketball rivalries, even meeting for the Class 5A state championship in 1982 when the Bullpups won their second of two titles in a row.
The schools, who used to play twice a year in the old Ark Valley League, haven’t met for five years, but Tuesday they’ll renew that storied rivalry at the Roundhouse in a girls-only game that matches two state-ranked teams.
Newton is 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, while the 9-1 Bullpups were No. 3 in Class 4A Division I when the last poll was released.
Game time should be approximately 7:30 p.m., or 20 minutes after the completion of the 6 p.m. JV game. Catch the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole on the play-by-play.
MHS is riding the wave of a seven-game winning streak, most of those games having been decided by halftime as the Bullpups have been coming out of the chute smoking. Against a good Andale team on Friday, MHS led 38-14 at the half and finished the night shooting 12 of 26 from 3-point, which is a staple of its offense.
Newton hasn’t played since defeating Derby 41-32 last Tuesday.
“They will start 5-10, 5-11, 5-10, 5-8 and 5-8,” MHS coach Chris Strathman said. “They have three really good athletes who helped them to a 5A state track title last year as a team.”
The Railers also bring in 6-3 Abby Schmidt quickly off the bench, so MHS will certainly be challenged from a size standpoint. Mandi Cooks is the only Bullpup who can match the Railers’ bigs in the eyes.
Strathman is perhaps most impressed with 5-11 sophomore Desi Karmel, who can do a little bit of everything.
“(Karmel) is the one that makes them go,” he said. “She is a very versatile player and they really feed off of her emotion. They were a new team last year when she got plugged in as a freshman, just really makes a lot of things happen. The other really good athletes are 5-8 Jada Berry and 5-4 Savannah Simmons. These girls can really get up and pressure and are great in transition offense.”
And Schmidt comes in to create havoc defensively.
“Schmidt disrupts a lot of things with her length and finishes pretty well around the basket,” Strathman said. “Their other mainstay is 5-10 Taylor Antonowich. She has a nice-looking shot and is also pretty athletic from the wing spot.”
MHS will have more than a week off after Tuesday’s game as the Mid America Classic doesn’t fire up until a week from Thursday.