McPherson High had to ride Ben Pyle and a suffocating defense into the McPherson Invitational semifinals.
The 6-8 Western Illinois signee put the Bullpups on his back offensively in the final game of the Invitational, scoring 22 points in the first half and finishing with 31 as MHS fans were able to exhale after a hard-earned 55-41 victory over Blue Valley West.
The 10-1 Bullpups moved into Friday’s 8:15 p.m. semifinals where they’ll play tall-and-talented Shawnee Mission East for the right to play in Saturday’s finals.
Pyle made 8 of 12 shots in the first half, scoring 11 points in each quarter. MHS had three separate 7-0 runs in the half, but each time it appeared to get comfortable, back came the determined Jaguars, who had no fear of McPherson — especially off the glass as they outrebounded MHS 19-9. It wound up with MHS up 33-27 at the break.
"He was really good, he was good because he was driving the ball," MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said of his versatile operative. "He was finishing plays. Without his points tonight we have big problems."
The second half belonged to the MHS defense.
Blue Valley West went 0 of 8 in the third quarter and managed only a pair of free throws as the Bullpups opened the lead to 15 and then methodically closed out the game in the fourth quarter.
"We gave up a lot less to O'mar (Stanley), Kinnamon said. "He only scored 4 in the second half which is really a good job with a combination of guys guarding him, Ben, Cody (Stufflebean) and Aren (Trost).
Stanley had a powerhouse first half with 10 points and 8 rebounds and wound up recording a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards. West finished with a 29-25 rebounding advantage.
"We're not going to able to come out like that (on Friday) and get hammered on the glass or we're going to have big problems," Kinnamon said.
The Bullpups did have a big downer on the night as Jake Alexander rolled an ankle in the first half and was done for the evening, perhaps for the tournament. Kinnamon said it's iffy he'll play either Friday or Saturday as the ankle blew up quickly and looked angry to walk on.
Kinnamon is expecting some kind of junk defense from the Lancers, especially if Alexander is a no-go.
Mason Alexander had a nice line for the Bullpups. While he scored only 6 points, he had 8 assists and 4 rebounds as he doesn't have to score to be an asset. Stufflebean was 3 of 3 for 6 points and his minutes could go up dramatically Friday since MHS might need his size on the boards.
Blue Valley West, now 3-6, takes on Wichita North at 4:45 Friday.
MHS (55) — Labertew 1-2, 0-2, 2; Mas. Alexander 3-13, 0-1, 6; Jk. Alexander 2-3, 0-2, 5; Diggs 1-2, 0-0, 2; B. Pyle 12-20, 5-7, 31; Mx. Alexander 1-1, 0-0, 2; Stufflebean 3-3, 0-0, 6; Trost 0-0, 1-2, 1. Totals — 23-44, 6-14, 55. 3-pointers — B. Pyle 2, Jk. Alexander 1.
Blue Valley West (41) — Stanley 4-7, 6-6, 14; Nordstrom 2-5, 2-2, 6; Goodale 0-3, 0-0, 0; Gammon 1-1, 0-1, 2; Bain 1-15, 4-5, 7; G. Riddle 1-1, 0-0, 2; Rehkop 1-2, 0-0, 2; S. Riddle 2-3, 0-0, 5; Coats 1-4, 0-0, 2. Totals — 13-41, 12-14, 41. 3-pointers — Bain 1, Rehkop 1, S. Riddle 1.