• OPENING DAY SCHEDULE •
• Thursday •
3:00 — Derby (7-3) vs. Blue Valley West (3-4)
4:45 — Shawnee Mission East (7-2) vs. Carroll (3-6)
6:30 — Lawrence Free State (6-4) vs. Buhler (5-3)
8:15 — Wichita North (4-5) vs. McPherson (8-0)
There’s no Conner Frankamp to prepare for, but Wichita North still possesses enough talent to cause McPherson High coach Kurt Kinnamon some sleepless nights.
The Bullpups host the Redskins at 8:15 p.m. Thursday in the finale of what should be a tremendous first day of the 50th annual McPherson Invitational, sponsored by Midway Motors.
And while it’s a 1-8 matchup, which often means a blowout, North could be one of the best teams the Bullpups have played this year.
The Redskins, a 6A state qualifier last year behind the wondrous Frankamp (who is now at KU), are 4-5 on the year, but recently gained the services of 6-9 transfer Gage Loy, who has made an immediate impact both offensively and defensively, which means their record is somewhat deceiving as it probably would be dramatically different had Loy been there from the beginning.
“Wichita North is a scary team because they have as much talent from a physical standpoint as anyone in the tournament,” said Kinnamon, whose team is attempting to defend its Invitational championship and seeking its 21st Invite title overall. “They also have the one thing that no one else in the tournament has and that is 6-9 (Loy). We must play our best game of the year.”
The Bullpups are undefeated at 8-0 and have played at an outrageously high level since the Christmas break. They are on the same side of the bracket as Lawrence Free State and Buhler.
The Bullpups’ improvement can be traced to chemistry. Returning starters Kyler Kinnamon (19.6 points, 6.1 assists), Peter Horton (9.9 points, 4.6 rebounds) and Ryan Horton (8.0 points, 3.3 rebounds) were givens, but the additions of Nathan Nutter (8.6 points, 3.4 rebounds) and Drew Pyle (6.4 points) have solidified the unit. Pyle is coming off a 22-point game, while Nutter has had a pair of recent 14-point games.
Sophomores Spenser Wine, Avery Gabel and Marcus McDaniel have made solid contributions, with their roles having increased since senior Keshawn Sewell went down with a broke leg over the Christmas break.
The tournament has special meaning for Kinnamon and says it’s a community effort.
“This is one of the best, if not the best, tournament in the state from the field that plays in it to the administration to the knowledge of the crowd about the game of basketball,” Kinnamon said. “I am sure that this tournament is exactly as Jay Frazier envisioned it 50 years ago.”