McPherson High’s first road basketball games of the year Friday night will be in one of the most hostile environments they will encounter all season.
The Bullpup teams, after playing back-to-back home games to start the season, make the 100-mile journey to Winfield. While the Vikings generally don’t draw overly big crowds, they usually have among the most vociferous.
The girls play at 6 p.m., with the boys to follow. 96.7 KBBE coverage begins at 5:45 p.m.
The boys’ game figures to be the highlight. The Bullpups and Vikings have played some spirited games in Winfield down through the years and this one promises to be no different.
The Vikings, coming off a 14-9 season, have a puncher’s chance simply because of the presence of potential All-Stater Will Adler. In their only game so far this year, a 70-62 victory over arch-rival Arkansas City, Adler poured in 37 points and also hauled in 15 rebounds.
McPherson High coach Kurt Kinnamon believes making Adler work at the defensive end could be a key as it would divert his attention on scoring the basketball.
“We are going to attack him offensively and make him guard to expend energy on the defensive end,” Kinnamon said. “I am confident that we have enough good defenders to hold him under his 37-point average.”
Drew Pyle may get the initial assignment to control Adler, who will not be shy about launching shots once he crosses midcourt.
Kinnamon said another key will be rebounding as the Vikings will be among the tallest teams the Bullpups play.
“Winfield's starting lineup is 6-6, 6-6, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-2, so we are going to be at a height disadvantage at every position,” Kinnamon said.
The question, though, is this: can the Vikings handle the ball against the Bullpups’ pressure defense?
The Bullpups have started the year 2-0, rolling past El Dorado by 52 points and then were pushed by Andover for a half before emerging with a 17-point victory against what is a good Class 5A team.
“These kids love to play,” Kinnamon said. “When you think of the reality of the situation and some of them only have 23 games left of their high school careers, I encourage them to get the most out of every single game.”
In the girls’ game, MHS figures to have its hands full with a Winfield team that has to be steaming after being upset 47-43 by Arkansas City in its first game. This is thought to be one of the better Winfield teams in recent years as it was 10-11 last year and expects to win at least four or five more this year.
“They have some really good pieces to work with,” MHS coach Chris Strathman said Tuesday after his team lost 61-44 to No. 4-ranked Class 5A Andover. “They have a super-athletic 6-footer (Courtney Griffiths) and a couple of good shooters to surround her. They had tonight off, so they’re going to have had a week to stew about that loss to Ark City and prepare for us. That (the loss) was a surprise. I talked to their coach (Jason VenJohn) on Sunday and he was very down and kind of embarrassed because they do have high expectations.”
The 1-1 Bullpups found themselves down by 15 points after a quarter on Friday against Andover, but played the Trojans nearly to a standstill over the final 24 minutes. Strathman has at least 10 players who are contending for playing time, so he’s using the early games to try and establish his rotation.