McPherson High vs. Hutchinson. Need anymore be said?
The Bullpups and Salthawks will conjure up memories of the “good ol’ days” of the Ark Valley League when they meet in a Thursday night special at the Roundhouse.
The girls tip off the action at 6 p.m., with the boys to follow. Coverage on 96.7 KBBE FM begins at 5:45 p.m.
While some schools MHS used to be rivals with will no longer play the Bullpups, Hutchinson hasn’t backed down. The players on the teams have grown up playing against each other for years and it’s just too good of a rivalry to be put in the drawer to gather dust.
In the boys’ game, the Bullpups will put their 4-0 record and No. 1 state ranking on the line against a Hutchinson team that is a deceiving 2-4. One of its wins came against Kapaun on a last-second shot in the AVCTL-City League Showdown Series.
“They always play tough man-to-man defense,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “They are about our size. (Brayden) Wells is quick on the perimeter and they have a couple of good spot-up shooters. Traditionally our games with Hutch have been very physical and I don't see this one being any different.”
The Salthawks are coming off a 60-52 loss on Tuesday to Salina Central. The Mustangs were at their best though as Hutch lost despite shooting 51 percent from the floor and turning it over only five times, which is something the Bullpups generally thrive on. In its 58-42 win over Buhler on Tuesday, MHS suffocated the Crusaders in the first quarter, with turnovers leading to a 23-5 lead.
The Salthawks have several athletic players and should be tough to keep off the boards. MHS did not have a good night rebounding against Buhler, with the Crusaders 10 to the better.
In the girls’ game, the 2-3 Bullpups have to avoid a letdown after their emotional 60-55 win over previously undefeated Buhler on Tuesday. The Bullpups played terrific team defense, limiting the Crusaders’ star guard Jessica Steffen to just nine points after she had averaged 21 in her two previous games.
Hutchinson (3-3) had won three games in a row before being whipsawed 45-21 by state-ranked and undefeated Salina Central.
“Hutch has been much improved this year, even though they had a really tough game with Salina Central last night,” MHS coach Chris Strathman said. “They have several girls that can really shoot the basketball and they run a lot of sets to free them up for 3s. Hutch also has a 6-4 girl that we will always need to be aware of. She hasn't been scoring much, but she proved she was capable last year against us at their place.’
Strathman is hoping that Tuesday’s performance, which included four players in double figures, is a harbinger of things to come.
“We need to use last night's game versus Buhler as a springboard for the rest of the week, as this is a really big week for our team,” said Strathman, whose team also plays Friday at Winfield in a key AVCTL Division III game.
• SUB-STATE UPDATE — Here are the current sub-state records for the tournament MHS will host in March:
• Boys — McPherson, 4-0; Abilene, 4-3; Ulysses, 4-3, Buhler, 3-3.
• Girls — Buhler, 5-1; Abilene, 4-2, McPherson, 2-3; Ulysses, 2-3.