MHS boys basketball record book a fascinating read

By Steve Sell
December 17, 2014

I could spend days pouring through the extensive McPherson High School boys basketball record book that was created by Carol Swenson (with help from the late Bob Hooper) and continued by Kurt Kinnamon.

Probably no school has kept such extensive and meticulous records. But then again, find me a school with as consistent of a basketball tradition in Kansas as MHS.

For example, when the Bullpups defeated Winfield last Friday, I didn’t realize that it was the 1,300th victory since the school began keeping records in 1937.

What makes that even more remarkable is that the MHS boys have lost only 414 games during that same span. That means every three out of four times the Bullpups have taken the court since 1937, they have been successful.

Tuesday’s win over Abilene was the Bullpups’ third at home this year and 531st since moving to the Roundhouse from what is now McPherson Middle School in 1963. The late, great Jay Frazier coached 20 of his 26 years at the Roundhouse, winning 189 games and losing only 54. Along came Mike Henson, whose home record was a mind-blowing 136-9 (94 percent) in his 12 years. In his final seven years, the Bullpups were an astonishing 84-2 playing under what he called “the magical blue lights.” 

With Tuesday’s win over Abilene, Kurt Kinnamon has won 209 games at the Roundhouse, while losing only 29 for 88 percent. Add Henson and Kinnamon together and you have a 345-38 record (90 percent). Talk about your homecourt advantage.

Try this on for size: McPherson High has had only five basketball coaches since 1937. Five! And one of those, Harold Johnston, was here for only one year as he was 3-16 during the 1956-57 season — 1957 being the year I was born and I’m no spring chicken.

Jack Randle coached 19 years at MHS, going 255-131 (66 percent). After the Johnston blip — how in the world could MHS go 3-16 in basketball? — Frazier, Henson and Kinnamon have coached the last 58 seasons.

Frazier had only three losing seasons during his tenure, ironically one of them being his first year and another being his last. And even his records in his three losing seasons approached .500 (8-11 and 10-11 in the other two years). 

Henson lost seven games in his first year — he was 17-7 — while he had another year where he was 13-7 and one more of 17-5. Other than that, he never lost more than THREE games. Three! Can you imagine that?

Kinnamon has had a couple of nine-loss seasons — one coming right after he won the state championship in his first year and had to replace eight seniors off that team — and he’s had three years where he lost six. One thing Kinnamon — like Frazier — has never done is have a perfect season, which Henson did twice. Kinnamon has had six teams lose just one game, including last year’s state championship team.

To show how much playing as a team has been a staple of McPherson basketball, only eight players have scored 1,000 points in their careers. You’d think as many points as the Bullpups have scored through the years there’d be more, but balance has been a trademark.

The 1,000-point scorers are headed by Christian Ulsaker (1,513). Others are Jordan Fithian (1,287), Josh Alexander (1,283), Brian Henson (1,179), Steve Henson (1,159), George Czaplinski (1,102), Ryan Herrs (1,063) and Jimmy Graham (1,053). Jamie Crist (995) and Brandon Carter (977) made a run at the magical mark.

Kyler Kinnamon is expected to be a member of the 1,000 Club at some point as he entered this season with 834.

The MHS record book includes more than just scoring, there's rebounds, steals, field goals made, 3-pointers made, assists, free throws made and attempted and other various trivia. Some of the records don't date back to the early years, but the book does have complete team records since the 1974-75 season. 

I feel like when I look at the book, I'm looking at the history of the most treasured high school program in Kansas.