Bullpups face Lancers in tourney opener Thursday

By Steve Sell
January 18, 2017
Kendall Shaw


3:00 — Manhattan (5-2) vs. Hutchinson (2-6)

4:45 — Wichita Heights (7-2) vs. Blue Valley West (2-5)

6:30— Maize (6-3) vs. Mill Valley (1-6)

8:15 — Shawnee Mission East (3-3) vs. McPherson (6-4)


McPherson High’s boys enter Thursday’s McPherson Invitational in an unfamiliar position.

The Bullpups are only the No. 4 seed as they take a 6-4 record into the 8:15 p.m. game against Shawnee Mission East, which is 3-3 as its schedule has been littered with postponements due to the weather.

It’s a rematch of last year’s first-round game when the Bullpups needed double-overtime to win a wildly entertaining 80-73 decision.

If the Bullpups win, they would play the Maize-Mill Valley winner at 8:15 p.m. Friday. Should they lose, they would play at 4:45 against the loser of that game.

Shawnee Mission East is somewhat of an unknown since it has played so few of games.

“Shawnee Mission East is a team that likes to run the ball up the floor and they are very efficient in their halfcourt offense,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “They play a combination of man-to-man and zone defenses. I look for them to zone us and that is what we have been preparing for. We have done a much better job in practice of penetrating the zone and playing inside-out. The first game is always the toughest because the atmosphere is sometimes different than we are used to.”

The Lancers don’t have quite the size of past SME teams, but they’ll certainly be able to match up with the Bullpups. Kinnamon added that most of the key players for the Lancers in last year’s matchup were seniors, so he’s hoping MHS can take advantage of their newer players being somewhat in awe of the cavernous Roundhouse.

The Bullpups haven’t played since losing 53-43 to Andale last Friday, but Kinnamon is hoping the tournament will serve as a springboard to a big second half of the season.

“This is an exciting time of year because of the three games in three nights,” Kinnamon said. “It is much like the state tournament. Although the records of the teams are not as sparkling as in the past, I think this tournament offers a good assortment of outstanding individuals and teams that play a variety of ways.”

This is the 53rd year of the tournament. MHS outlasted Lawrence Free State, which was ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, 63-54 in last year’s championship game after trailing for most of the game. The title was the Bullpups’ 22nd in tournament history.