Lots on the line when MHS hosts Buhler on Friday

By Steve Sell
February 16, 2017
Kendall Shaw

There could be more than one crowning on Friday at the Roundhouse.

It’s Homecoming for the MHS basketball teams and none other than arch-rival Buhler comes to town. With the pomp and circumstance assured to bring in a big crowd— and the fact the Crusaders will have a throng of fans who make the 15-minute jaunt — the Roundhouse should tingle with electricity.

The girls start the action at 6 p.m. and it’s “Think Pink” Night as they’ll be wearing their pink uniforms, which in the past has brought them considerable success. Then is the boys game, with Homecoming ceremonies at halftime.

For those who can’t make it, catch all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole on the play-by-play.

The MHS girls defeated Buhler handily in the first meeting, a game the Bullpups were without All-Stater Taylor Robertson as she was out with a broken finger. MHS, with a win, would improve to 8-0 in the league and 15-3 overall. The Bullpups have a one-game lead over Circle, whose only loss this season is to MHS and the teams meet on Tuesday in Towanda.

“Buhler has been struggling, but their staff always has them playing so hard and they will do all they can to take us out of rhythm on the offensive end,” MHS coach Chris Strathman said. “If we do see some junk defenses, hopefully we can just play smart basketball and adjust as needed to be successful against whatever they throw at us.”

Winfield tried to junk the game up on Tuesday by basically guarding Robertson with two players, but Mandi Cooks took advantage for a career-high 26 points and 12 rebounds. And while MHS did not shoot it well from 3-point — 2 of 16 in the first half — Strathman is not expecting his team to shoot that way very often. It did come back to make 6 of 12 in the second half from beyond the arc.

“Think Pink” Night is always important to Strathman, as the MHS girls program has raised thousands and thousands of dollars for cancer awareness.

“Our girls are always excited to play on ‘Think Pink’ Night, add in Homecoming and playing our arch-rival Buhler and it makes for an interesting night,” Strathman said. “We always hope to have a great crowd for the girls game, but even more so on ‘Think Pink’ Night as we would love for everyone to get there for the girls game. We will do our halftime presentation.”

MHS in recent years has raised more than $3,000 annually. All girls from grade school to high school will be presented and it’s an impressive sight.

In the boys’ game, the Bullpups can clinch a tie for the league title, which would be coach Kurt Kinnamon’s 16th in his 22 years. That’s after Mike Henson won 9 in his 12 years.

MHS is 7-0 in the league and Buhler is 6-1. An MHS win would give the Bullpups a two-game lead with two left to play.

A victory also would almost assure the Bullpups of the No. 1 sub-state seed. MHS is 13-4, Buhler is 14-5 and Hays lost again on Tuesday and is now 11-6.

Buhler put a big scare into the Bullpups in the first meeting as the Crusaders made a furious fourth-quarter rally to make it close at the end. Kinnamon said Buhler is playing as well now as any team in 4A Division I.

“Buhler has the components of a good team with coaching, size, quickness and shooting ability,” Kinnamon said. “We are going to need to make sure to take care of the ball and get great shots on every possession. Defensively, we have to identify their shooters and make sure they are taking contested shots on every possession. We need to win the battle on the glass. It should be the best crowd of the year as it is ‘Think Pink’ Night and there are a number of things on the line on the boys side.”

The Crusaders have a tremendous shooter in Tanner Lackey, who scored 18 points in the fourth quarter alone when the teams met the first time. And mammoth center Grant Owen is a presence inside as he has nice touch and moves for a 6-7 and 250-pound player. Kinnamon said the Bullpups will have to match Buhler’s intensity since there is so much at stake.

The MHS teams close out the regular season next week with a road game against Circle and home game against Augusta.