• KINNAMON ON TITLE TEAM — McPherson High senior-to-be All-Stater Kyler Kinnamon was a driving force behind the Mid-Kansas All-Stars winning the championship of the Great American Shootout AAU Basketball Tournament this past weekend in Dallas.
The quintessential point guard was the floor general as Mid-Kansas rolled through seven games of the 204-team Green Division undefeated to walk off with the championship.
In the title game, it was a no-contest as the Kansans overwhelmed the Dallas Showtyme Elite 68-46 in a game stopped late when one of the fans of the Elite allegedly threatened an official with a taser after a play near the bleachers.
Kinnamon doesn’t have to score a lot for this team to be successful as there are plenty of offensive catalysts. But according to his high school coach and father, Kurt, he played his style, hitting the open shots when the opportunity arose and was a demon on the defensive end.
According to Kurt Kinnamon, 6-9 senior-to-be Dean Wade of St. John, which is coached by Clint Kinnamon, was the best player on the floor. Wade, who handles the ball like a guard and can step outside and hit the 3-pointer, scored 30 points in the finals and saw his stock rise. According to a published report, more than 350 college coaches were on hand at this showcase, one of the premier stops on the summer AAU circuit.
Both Wade and Kyler Kinnamon were All-State, All-Class first team this past season by the state’s two major papers and expected to achieve that status again this season.
Three Hesston players played prominent roles. Wyatt McKinney, the 6-6 center who just completed his Swather career, helped Wade on the inside, while returning Swathers Tyler McCartney and Grant Raleigh played well, according to Kinnamon. McKinney reportedly will not be continuing his basketball career, as he’ll be attending Kansas State.
Among the other standouts for Mid Kansas were Manhattan’s Payton Stephens and Hays’ Brady Werth.
The team has little rest as it plays this week in Las Vegas.
• GOODBYE ARLENE — There is considerable sadness around the McPherson High athletic office with the recent announcement that Activities Secretary Arlene Sawatzky had resigned to accept a job with McPherson County.
Arlene had been with MHS for nine years, during which time she was the unsung glue behind the operation of Bullpup athletics. She had countless responsibilities, all of which she handled with aplomb, dignity and, most of all, class. She always was upbeat and pleasant and I’m sure officials from other schools respected her as much as we do.
In my job during the school year, I probably talked with Arlene once or twice a day. She would always drop everything she was doing to make sure I was taken care of, for which I was always grateful. She would send schedules, track down coaches, provide important phone numbers or emails of other schools, send head shots of students that I wanted to use in stories and sometimes just listen when I was having a bad day.
If you asked any coach at MHS the importance of Arlene, they probably could talk for hours. I can’t imagine this next school year without her. I wish her the best of luck on her new job. McPherson County may have just hired the best employee it will have.
• ANOTHER CLUNKER — The Kansas City Royals are playing with cement shoes, as their season continues to sink deeper and deeper into the abyss.
Once again Monday, the Royals wasted another quality pitching performance in a 3-1 loss to division rival Chicago. That makes six runs the Royals have scored in four games since the All-Star break, all losses. A month ago they were the talk of baseball, riding the high of a 10-game winning streak and occupying first place in the AL Central for a couple of days, teasing their fans that this might be the year they end baseball’s longest playoff drought.
But since going 10-0, they have tumbled to a 9-18 record and undone all their good work. The offense may be the worst in baseball when everything is taken into consideration. The lack of power is a given, but plate discipline and failure to hit with runners in scoring position are glaring as well. They're also a team that seems to play with little urgency, seemingly satisfied with being mediocre.
If the Royals continue on this slide, look for the howls to oust Ned Yost as manager to become louder. Sometimes a new voice is needed, as the Royals have become too comfortable with his low-key, placid demeanor.