Be careful what you wish for.
All season McPherson High’s boys had been chasing after the No. 1 seed for the Buhler sub-state and in the final few weeks the Bullpups finally caught and passed Hays.
That means MHS draws Ulysses at 6 p.m. Thursday in the first round, while ranked teams Buhler and Hays hammer it out in the nightcap.
Just because the Bullpups have drawn Ulysses, don’t automatically pass them on to Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. title game.
The Tigers are 10-10, which means none of the four teams in the sub-state has a losing record. They have been lighting it up with five straight wins after a meandering start.
“Ulysses is the hottest team in the sub-state besides us,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “They have been playing well as of late. Their most impressive game may actually be a loss by 2 to Holcomb, which is 19-1 and No. 1 in 4A Division II. Ulysses can really get on a roll shooting the ball. We have to take advantage of our size and make every possession count.”
What’s impressive about the Tigers is their offense. In their five-game winning streak to close out the season they have averaged 68 points a game and beat Class 6A Dodge City along the way. They went 0-3 in the Valley Center Midseason Tournament, but lost by 1 to the host Hornets, by 3 to 6A Garden City and by 14 to Maize South.
The Bullpups, after a mediocre start by their standards (6-4), have been getting better and better. They have won 10 straight, which included three fine performances in winning the McPherson Invitational. They have won their last eight games by double digits and have improved their defense dramatically.
The Bullpups have been receiving double-digit scoring from Ben Pyle, Mason Alexander and Jake Alexander, and steady, gritty play from Drew Labertew and Thomas Diggs. Jayse Alexander provides a spark off the bench and Wyatt Seidl could come up big if MHS makes the finals because he can bang inside against bigger players.
If the Bullpups prevail Thursday, they know they will be facing a quality opponent in the finals. Hays (13-7) started the season 7-1, but since has sagged to 6-6 and that included a loss to Great Bend in the regular-season finale. Buhler (14-6) has won six of its last seven, the only loss at the Roundhouse to the Bullpups. The Crusaders, being on their home court, figure to triumph.
“Buhler and Hays is a tossup,” Kinnamon said. “Hopefully they go five overtimes and wear each other out before the finals.”
Catch the Bullpup action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole on the call starting at 5:55 Thursday.