McPherson High basketball coaches Chris Strathman and Kurt Kinnamon spent this past Saturday getting to know Tuesday’s opponent up close and personal.
The Bullpup coaches took in a scouting trip to watch Mulvane, which invades the Roundhouse Tuesday night for the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division III opener.
The girls start at 6 p.m., the boys at 7:45. Both games will be aired on 96.7 KBBE-FM, with the pregame starting at 5:45.
The MHS teams certainly have prepped well for league play.
The Bullpup girls are 0-2, but the losses are to ranked teams Salina Central (No. 3 in 5A in the last poll) and Washburn Rural (No. 7 in 6A).
Mulvane was picked by some to be the team to beat in D-III this year because it has the most experience returning. The Wildcats have four veteran players, including potential D-III Player of the Year candidate Destynee Donaldson.
“Mulvane did get upset on Saturday at Circle. They let one get away in the last couple of minutes,” Strathman said. “They have some nice players, in particular Donaldson and (Aubree) Burkhart. Both are skilled players that can really shoot. Burkhart is an excellent mid-range shooter, which is kind of a lost art these days. Donaldson is a returning first-team All-League player, good shooter and more of a slasher.”
Strathman knows just what this game means to his young team as it’s fighting a confidence factor right now. But in both losses, the Bullpups have played well with the exception of one bad quarter, the first quarter against Salina Central and the second quarter against Washburn Rural.
“This is a very important game for us as it tips off our league schedule against one of the favorites,” Strathman said. “We need to protect our home court and I think our girls will bounce back and be ready tomorrow night.”
The Mulvane boys, who were hit hard by graduation after last season, were surprised 73-61 Saturday by Circle.
“They play very fast and shoot it quickly,” Kinnamon said of the Wildcats. “They like to play uptempo and take a lot of 3-point shots, and play zone and junk defenses.”
Collin Dempsey, a 6-2 guard, will be the focal point of the MHS defense. He has had games of 27 and 23 points and isn’t afraid to let it fly from anywhere. The Wildcats aren’t overly big, so it should be a good matchup.
Unless Mulvane changes its ways, it promises to be an up-and-down game, which should be to MHS’ liking. The Bullpups have had to grind it out in their first two wins over Salina Central and Washburn Rural, but would like to get into a fast-paced game because of their considerable skills in the open floor.
This is the final tuneup for the MHS teams before they compete this weekend in the Hy-Vee Classic in Kansas City, Mo. The girls play St. Teresa’s on Friday and the boys play Kearney, Mo., on Saturday.