Let's not overlook the importance of winning league

By Steve Sell
February 21, 2017

When we go to other towns in our league to play basketball, most of the schools have banners in their gyms signifying the years they won league championships.

Maybe it’s because it hasn’t happened very often. Not with McPherson High in their league.

Tonight’s MHS girls basketball game at Towanda against Circle will be a league-clincher for the Bullpups with a victory. Circle is the Bullpups’ only competition in the league, as the T-Birds are 7-1 to MHS’ 8-0. A T-Birds win and the teams most likely will tie for the league title, which still signifies a championship even if it’s shared.

It would hardly be an upset, though, if Circle wins. Its loss to the Bullpups is the only thing standing between the T-Birds and a perfect season. In that game, the Bullpups bull-rushed the T-Birds with an amazing first quarter and then lived off that advantage the rest of the game.

Should MHS win the league outright or share the title, it would be the 11th time in 12 years the Bullpups have ruled the league. And remember, MHS has been in the top three levels of the AVCTL as when the 24-team, four-division league came into existence, the Bullpups actually started in Division I, before going to Division II before settling into Division III.

Prior to Strathman’s time as head coach, MHS was the league champion in 9 of Scott Schaefer’s last 11 years. So MHS is staring at a 20th league championship in 23 years.

However in the Roundhouse, banners are only reserved for state championships, not league titles.

McPherson fans, however, sometimes unfairly view success of a season only by making it to state and more importantly, playing on Saturday on the final day of the season.

But the MHS girls winning so many titles (and the boys have won 25 of their last 34 league titles) means the programs have sustained longtime excellence. A lot has to go right during the league portion of the schedule for a team to be the champion. And sadly, that’s sometimes overlooked as we’ve been so programmed to going to first Topeka, and now Salina for the state tourney.

I’m sure the goals at the start of the year for the MHS teams is to win league, win their midseason tournament and then make state. The midseason tournaments are almost like a state tournament when you consider the depth of the fields. Just look at this year’s Mid America Classic as two of the top three teams in Class 6A joined the Bullpups. The boys’ tournament also was loaded with top-notch 6A and 5A schools.

So McPherson fans, please take a moment to salute the accomplishments of winning the league title. While it may not be the ultimate prize, it’s still a noteworthy feat that should result in more than the casual congratulations.