As the clock was running out Thursday night, you could hear a pin drop in the McPherson High Roundhouse.
The only exception was some well-deserved noise that came from a small band of Wichita North supporters, as their Redskins sprang one of the biggest surprises in recent McPherson Invitational history by upsetting the top-seed, undefeated and No. 1-ranked McPherson Bullpups 73-63, dropping MHS into Friday’s 3 p.m. consolation game against arch-rival Buhler.
It didn’t take long for the surprisingly small Roundhouse crowd to go silent, as North stunningly socked the Bullpups in the mouth with a 24-6 first-quarter haymaker, which for all intents and purposes was game, set, match.
The Bullpups wouldn’t be the Bullpups, though, without valiantly making a charge that did slice the lead from 20 points to eight in the fourth quarter, but the effects of the first quarter simply couldn’t be shook off.
MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon, who had not had a team lose a first-round game since 2001, had maintained all week that North was a dangerous team. The Redskins, now 5-5, had several returnees in place from a team that had qualified for the 6A state tournament last year, though scoring wunderkind Conner Frankamp is now playing for Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks.
All the numbers for the Redskins were staggering and all made the difference. They were 20 of 38 from the field, a numbing 27 of 33 at the line and had a 34-17 rebounding advantage. When you add all that together, they could have defeated just about anybody on this night.
“We didn’t rebound, you can’t get beat 34-17 on the glass,” Kinnamon said. “For whatever reason, once they got on a little bit of a run, we got tight, the basket got smaller... the other thing is, they’re a better team than anybody believed. We had seen it on film. We knew they had pieces to be pretty good and they were tonight. They just shot the ball so well. When they shoot it well and we don’t, and we shoot 26 3s and 25 2s, and we didn’t shoot it as well as usual, that’s a recipe for not being very successful.”
MHS had no answer for Tarius Williams, who scored 28 points, including 13 of 15 from the line. But the real daggers came from tiny guard Tristyn Villa, who drained four 3-pointers and scored 15. Zach Beard, normally a top scorer, contributed 10 rebounds from his guard spot. Sean Bernard added 14 points and six boards.
The Bullpups, after three quarters of ineffective play, unloaded for 29 points in the final period as the Redskins had some suspect possessions where they didn’t run much clock. Peter Horton scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to keep MHS afloat and finished second to Kyler Kinnamon, who had 22, along with six assists and six steals.
MHS, now 8-1, was 21 of 51 from the field, yet made 15 of 25 from 2-point. The 3-ball did it in, going just 6 of 26.
Wichita North coach Gary Squires thought his team played about as well as it could play.
“Those kids are warriors,” Squires said. “And that’s the way you have to play in the City League. They stepped to the challenge. We knew we had to execute well and play well defensively and shoot the ball well. I was very proud of the way the kids came out of the gate and shot it well. We have to do that every game. We tried to extend our defense and with (6-9) Gage Loy out there at the top, we didn’t want to let them get their guards going.”