For the first time in three games, the McPherson High girls won’t be facing a No. 1-ranked basketball team.
But they will be facing an undefeated team.
The Bullpups make their third road appearance in four games on Tuesday when they travel to Abilene.
Tip time is 6 p.m., with the boys to follow. Those not making the trip can listen to all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Jim Joyner on the call.
The 2-1 Bullpups are coming off a 59-51 loss to defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Bishop Miege on the Stags’ home court after the game had been tied at 41-all with 5 1/2 minutes left.
Abilene defeated Augusta 48-43 on Friday to move to 3-0.
“Abilene comes in at 3-0, with two dominating wins over Smoky Valley and Rock Creek, and then a pretty close win over Augusta,” said MHS coach Chris Strathman, whose team defeated 6A’s No. 1 team Derby a week ago before playing Miege. “They have a new coach this year and are running all new stuff that we have seen on film. Abilene has some nice athletes and players, so we will need to be ready. A lot of what they do starts with Hannah Willey, who is a good, aggressive guard with real scorer's mentality.”
Willey and Sydney Burton have been a double-barreled attack for Abilene, combining for nearly 35 points a game. Both are guards, Willey a 5-7 junior and Burton a 5-5 junior.
Strathman admits it’s a rather short turnaround after two such high-stress games.
“We did put a lot into last week and that can be a concern for tomorrow,” Strathman said. “However, they did have the entire weekend off to recover while we usually practice on Saturday this time of year. I think the girls will be excited to bounce back into the win column after our tough loss against Miege. Hopefully our JV and C-Team can continue to play well as they have been off to a great start this year as well.”
In the boys game, the Bullpups are taking on an Abilene team that’s off to an unaccustomed 1-2 start, the lone win an 85-point outburst against state-ranked (4A D-II) Smoky Valley.
The Bullpups, though, can ill-afford to take the Cowboys lightly just because they took No. 1 Miege down to the final second before losing, 48-46.
“We have to be sure that we are not satisfied with a great effort and a near miss,” said MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon, whose team is 2-1. “We also put a lot of effort into last week as a team and a staff. The same attention to detail has the be there this week as well.”
Abilene is very balanced as four players are scoring in double figures. The best player may be 6-4 center Tucker Robinson, a powerful inside presence with good strength. Preston Boyd is a 6-5 frontcourt player, so the Cowboys do have the size to play with MHS. Parker Gentry and Noah Wildman are other capable scorers and Kinnamon knows that playing in Abilene is always a challenge as it’s a tremendous atmosphere.
MHS finally returns home on Friday to take on Winfield for Wall of Fame Night.