Invite update: Bullpups are tourney champs

By Steve Sell
January 20, 2018
Kendall Shaw

It was McPherson Magic, Part II.

And who says sequels can't live up to the originals?

For the second straight night at a jam-packed Roundhouse, the never-say-die Bullpups summoned all of their might off a frenzied crowd as they came back from a 6-point halftime deficit to knock off Cinderella finalist Bishop Carroll 61-51 to win their fourth straight McPherson Invitational title.

It also was the 24th title for the Bullpups in the 54 years of the event.

"I thought we played really well down the stretch," an emotional MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said as he's now been at the helm of 11 of those championships while Mike Henson had 9 and Jay Frazier 4. "The main thing was we did a better job of getting ball movement… it was kind of getting stuck a little bit the first half. I thought we did a really good job of running our stuff and being more patient."

Once again the Bullpups reached down and searched frantically until they found their intestinal fortitude as they outlasted a Carroll team that is going to a factor in who wins Class 5A. It's hard to believe the Eagles were just the No. 6 seed coming in, but they had won 7 of their last 8 before Saturday and had knocked off Class 6A's No. 1 team Lawrence Free State on Friday.

And again, the offense came and went, but the defense was a constant.

"Defensively our goal is always under 50, so we missed that by one," Kinnamon said. "Just kind of guys made plays and found ways and tough plays. They're very good. They're hard to guard. I thought we did a really good job of guarding their actions."

After MHS was down 31-25 at the half, it roared back to tie the game by the end of the third quarter at 40, then started the fourth quarter on a 14-7 rip and wound up dominating the period 21-11 as for the second straight night the Bullpups had a Secretariat-like kick as they thundered down the homestretch.

Versatile Ben Pyle, the tourney MVP, finished with a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. But balance was the key as Jake Alexander, returning after missing Friday with a softball-sized sprained ankle, scored 14 courageous points off the bench and also big off the pine  was Cody Stufflebean, who had 10. All-Tourney Mason Alexander also scored 10, and had 5 assists and 5 steals as he again played a solid floor game.

"We had some guys who really had some fantastic tournaments," Kinnamon said. "Obviously Mason and Ben had great tournaments, but you could go right down the list. All of our kids, I'm proud of them."

Tanner Mans scored 18 to lead the Eagles and All-Tourney Luke Evans chipped in with 13. Carroll is loaded with underclassmen and will only get better as it's a scary team for the future.

The victory improved the Bullpups to 12-1 and they have precious little time to enjoy it as they play Tuesday at Newton, which features big-time sophomore Ty Berry, a sure-fire All-Stater.

"I feel like we got better this tournament," said Kinnamon, whose team knocked off a couple of 6A teams along with the 5A Carroll. "We really did. We can not go down to Newton and let that momentum we've built get away. Very proud of the guys, I thought they had a great tournament and great tournament defensively. I felt like we just kind of grew up in this tournament, particularly our young guys."

MHS (61) — Labertew 1-3, 0-0, 2; Mas. Alexander 4-11, 0-0, 10; Diggs 0-0, 0-0, 0; B. Pyle 8-14, 5-6, 23; Jays. Alexander 0-2, 2-2, 2; Stufflebean 4-6, 2-3, 10; Jk. Alexander 4-10, 4-6, 14, Hoppes 0-0, 0-0, 0; Hoover 0-0, 0-0, 0-0; Kinnamon 0-0 0-0, 0; Trost 0-0, 0-0, 0; Mx. Alexander 0-0, 0-0, 0. Totals — 21-46, 13-17, 61. 3-pointers — Mas. Alexander 2, B. Pyle 2, Jk. Alexander 2.

Carroll (51) — Pracht 3-8, 3-5, 9; Lynch 0-0, 0-0, 0; Mans 6-10, 4-5, 18; Lee 2-4, 0-0, 5; Evans 4-7, 3-5, 13; St. Vrain 1-2, 1-2, 4; Larkin 1-4, 0-0, 2; Reid 0-1, 0-0, 0. Totals — 17-36, 11-17, 51. 3-pointers — Mans 2, Evans 2, Lee 1, St. Vrain 1.