Invitatinal update: MHS advances to semifinals

By Steve Sell
January 19, 2017
Kendall Shaw

McPherson High coach Kurt Kinnamon admitted he’d had several sleepless nights thinking about the Bullpups’ McPherson Invitational opening-round matchup with Shawnee Mission East.

The Lancers are a traditional Class 6A power and their coach Shawn Hair has been in the Roundhouse countless times, so nothing the Bullpups did figured to be new on Thursday.

Except maybe play a zone defense.

After MHS’ man-to-man parted like the red sea as the Lancers time and again thundered down the middle for easy layups, Kinnamon uttered the dreaded “z word” and the zone paid dividends in a 69-55 victory.

So Bullpup fans can exhale as they’ll be in the 8:15 p.m. featured game Friday night against No. 1 seed Maize.

“Tremendous zone defense,” Kinnamon said half-jokingly as his disdain for the strategy is about on par with 3-putting a green when he plays golf. “It’s a good win, I thought we showed some good toughness. We had guys who made plays. We won the rebound battle (29-26) and were under 10 turnovers. That first-round game, I’ve always said, is the hardest.”

The Bullpups sprinted to a 24-17 first-quarter lead, but the Lancers pulled within 35-31 by half’s end. However, MHS buckled its chin strap defensively in the third quarter and gave up just 4 points to open up a 44-35 lead, then put the game away with an endless parade to the free throw line. After shooting only 8 through the first three quarters, they shot 23 in the fourth quarter as East tried to prolong the game.

The Bullpups had four players reach double figures, led by Jake Alexander’s 20 points. Ben Pyle scored 18, Mason Alexander had 12 and Thomas Diggs chipped in with 10. Jayse Alexander gave MHS a lift off the bench with 8, burying a couple of treys as MHS hit 8 of 17 from beyond the arc as it was more judicious with its attempts in the second half after taking 13 in the first half.

Connor Rieg led the Lancers with 19.

Maize will provide a stern test as the Eagles are 7-3 and capable of putting up a lot of points though they didn’t shoot it well in the first round.

“Maize will play a lot of man-to-man defense,” Kinnamon said. “Tomorrow night will be a challenge. They’re good.”

McPherson (69) — Labertew 0-1, 0-0, 0; M. Alexander 2-7, 7-8, 12; Jk. Alexander 5-8, 9-10, 20; Diggs 3-4, 3-6, 10; B. Pyle 7-13, 1-3, 18; Kinnamon 0-1, 1-2, 1; Hoppes 0-1, 0-0, 0; Seidl 0-1, 0-0, 0; Jy. Alexander 2-4, 2-2, 8. Totals — 19-40, 23-31, 69. 3-pointers — Pyle 3, Jy. Alexander 2, M. Alexander 1, Jk. Alexander 1, Diggs 1.

Shawnee Mission East (55) — Thompson 4-12, 1-2, 10; Schoemann 3-7, 0-0, 8; Rieg 4-11, 10-14, 19; Curran 0-1, 0-0, 0; Wright 0-2, 0-0, 0; Bolton 1-3, 0-0, 2; Kurlbaum 1-1, 0-0, 3; George 0-3, 1-2, 1; Carroll 1-1, 0-0, 2; Maddox 4-7, 2-2, 10. Totals — 18-48, 14-20, 55. 3-pointers — Schoemann 2, Thompson 1, Rieg 1, Kurlbaum 1.