Friday’s five faves...
• BULLPUP BOYS TOP SEED SO FAR — If the McPherson Invitational basketball pairings were based on results so far, the host Bullpups would be the No. 1 seed.
The Bullpups are 3-0 on the season, with their game against Kearney (Mo.) in the Hy-Vee Shootout being cancelled due to weather. They are the only undefeated team in the field, which is surprising when you consider it’s loaded with traditional powers and is as deep as any there’s been.
Shawnee Mission East, which lost to the Bullpups in last year’s title game after entering undefeated and ranked No. 3 in Class 6A, is 3-1, along with surprising Buhler. The Crusaders, though, play Abilene tonight and invade the Roundhouse on Tuesday.
Lawrence Free State is 3-2 and at this point would be the No. 4 seed.
Other records are Derby (2-2), Wichita North (2-3), Blue Valley West (1-2) and tourney newcomer Bishop Carroll (1-3). All of these teams have played difficult schedules, so don’t fear for a lack of quality in the tourney. It’s going to be its usual star-studded event. You know it’s strong when at this point perennial 5A power Carroll is the No. 8 seed.
• SUB-STATE RECORDS — As of today, all four of the boys’ teams in the McPherson Class 4A Division I sub-state tournament are .500 or better.
The Bullpups are 3-0, while Buhler is 3-1. Ulysses is 3-2 and Abilene is 2-2. As mentioned earlier, Abilene and Buhler hook up tonight.
On the girls’ side, Buhler would be the top seed. The Crusaders are 4-0 and have not been tested yet. Their closest game is 12 points (Winfield), while their other three wins are by 19 points or more.
Abilene is 3-1 and it will be interesting to see how it matches up tonight with Buhler. Ulysses is 2-3 and McPherson is 1-3. The Bullpups, of course, host Buhler on Tuesday.
• TAKE THAT SEC! — Score one for the Big 12 against the pompous, almighty SEC.
It was so satisfying to see all the shocked looks on the faces of Alabama’s fans Thursday night when Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom (a Hutchinson High grad) scored at the end of the Sugar Bowl to cap the Sooners’ 45-31 victory.
I just had an inkling that Oklahoma might pull the upset. It was playing an Alabama team that probably was somewhat downtrodden because it wasn’t playing for the national championship as it’s accustomed to.
The Sooners took the game right to the Tide and showed no fear. Once Alabama realized it was in a game, it did ramp up the intensity.
The Big 12 has another chance tonight to throw some mud on the SEC when Missouri takes on Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl. The intensity level in this game should be off the charts since Missouri used to be in the Big 12.
• LOECKER, OSU OPEN BIG 12 WITH BIG WIN — The Oklahoma State women opened Big 12 basketball play Thursday by knocking off perennial power Texas 67-61 in Stillwater.
The victory improved the Cowgirls to 12-0 overall.
McPherson’s Katelyn Loecker certainly contributed to the victory. She played nearly half the game (19 minutes) and scored four points and pulled down four rebounds. Former Andover Central star Tiffany Bias led OSU with 23 points.
Loecker, the two-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, is averaging 3.1 points and 4.3 rebounds while playing just over 16 minutes a game.
• NFL BLACKOUTS? — The wretched weather that is blanketing the country could have an adverse affect on this weekend’s NFL playoff games.
According to a report today, only one of the four games this weekend is sold out so far, that being New Orleans at Philadelphia.
Tickets still remain in Indianapolis (playing Kansas City), Cincinnati (playing San Diego), and Green Bay (playing San Francisco). The wind chill factor in Green Bay could be as low as minus-30, which to me is almost putting the players at risk. Green Bay has sold out every game since January of 1983 as the Packers could have the most faithful fans in the NFL.
If home teams do not sell out, the games are blacked out in that city, which would be shocking. The last time an NFL playoff game was blacked out was 2002 when Miami hosted Baltimore.