• MID AMERICA CLASSIC •
3:00 — Shawnee Mission South vs. Wichita Northwest
4:30 — Manhattan vs. Hays
6:00 — Andale vs. Olathe East
7:30 — Gardner-Edgerton vs. McPherson
3:00 — Shawnee Mission South-Wichita Northwest loser vs. Manhattan-Hays loser
4:30 — Andale-Olathe East loser vs. Gardner-Edgerton-McPherson loser
6:00 — Shawnee Mission South-Wichita Northwest winner vs. Manhattan-Hays winner
7:30 — Andale-Olathe East winner vs. Gardner-Edgerton-McPherson winner
2:00 — 7th place
3:45 — 5th place
5:30 — 3rd place
7:15 — 1st place
So they meet again.
It will be McPherson High against Gardner-Edgerton at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Roundhouse in the first round of the 19th annual Mid America Classic, sponsored by the McPherson Optimist Club.
That also means it’s another matchup of MHS coach Chris Strathman and former Bullpup coach Scott Schaefer, who combined forces for nearly a decade here when the ‘Pups won four Class 5A state championships, including three straight from 1997-99.
Strathman, of course, tries to downplay the storyline, noting it’s not about him against his mentor. But he also knows it won’t be ignored by the normal basketball fan.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Schaef again and matching up on Thursday,” said Strathman, whose team won the first head-to-head matchup two years ago, 41-32. “He is bringing in an extremely young team and they will know they have nothing to lose. The tournament experience and trip will be a great opportunity for them to grow as a young team. He plays a few sophomores and three freshmen among his top eight players, so they are just trying to put it together. They do have some nice pieces and we will have to be ready to go on Thursday.”
The Bullpups, after a 1-3 start, have won five of their last six games to move to 6-4 on the year. MHS will have been off for more than a week, as its last action was last Tuesday against Circle. The last time they had a long layoff, they returned with their best performance of the year in a win over Buhler.
Defending champion Olathe South is not in the tournament this year, which leaves the door open for perhaps Manhattan, which pushed the Falcons hard in last year’s championship game. The Indians are 9-1 and ranked No. 4 in this week’s KBCA poll.
“Manhattan is the early favorite to win the tournament,” Strathman said. “They have very good experience, especially at the forward position, where those two girls (Caroline Ballard and Darby Price) are just very solid. It’s always nice to see some new teams join the Classic, and this year we have three 6As that are new in Olathe East, Wichita Northwest and Shawnee Mission South. They are all right around .500, but all obviously play against large schools all season long so some of those records can be deceiving. Andale impressed me last Friday night at Buhler, played much better than their 6-4 record indicates.”
If the Bullpups win, they play the winner of Olathe East and Andale at 7:30 p.m. Friday.