It's Kansas City here we come for MHS cagers

By Steve Sell
December 18, 2014
Kendall Shaw

Lights, camera, action.

McPherson High’s basketball teams hit the big time Friday when they travel to Kansas City, Mo., to play in the 20th annual Hy-Vee Shootout on the campus of Avila University.

The past two years, the teams have been split up, the girls playing on Friday and the boys on Saturday.

But this year, maybe to make it easier and less expensive for the MHS fans, the Bullpups will be playing back-to-back games, with the girls at 4 p.m. against Lee’s Summit North and the boys approximately 5:30 against Archbishop O’Hara.

Both games will be televised locally on Cox Cable Channel 22, while 96.7 KBBE FM will be courtside for all the action. Pre-game is expected to start approximately 3:45 p.m.

The girls are looking for their first win in three tries in the Classic and it will be the youngest team MHS coach Chris Strathman has taken.

Strathman has sought help from an old colleague as Lee’s Summit North has played William Chrisman this year, a school whose first-year coach Scott Schaefer was at MHS before Strathman took over when he left for Gardner-Edgerton.

“We’ve got that film and we also have the film from St. Teresa’s Academy, who we played last year at the Hy-Vee,” Strathman said. “They are big, let’s just put it that way. I don’t think they’re going to get out and pressure us a whole lot, so we should be able to run our offense. It will come down to us being able to stop them and to speed them up a little bit because they definitely have some size on us.”

The Bullpups take a 3-1 record into the game, the only loss coming to Class 5A-ranked Andover, a game in which MHS was outscored by only two points over the last three quarters after being down 22-7. They handed Abilene its first loss of the season here Tuesday in impressive fashion, 68-54, as freshman Taylor Robertson scored 19 points. Cassidy Wedel and Emma Yowell chipped in with 10 apiece. Ashtyn Schieferecke was a rock inside with eight points and nine rebounds, while point guard Madison Hoffman dealt out seven assists.

The MHS boys are hoping for redemption, but not against an opponent. Last year Mother Nature prevailed as the Bullpups’ scheduled game in the Classic was cancelled after an ice storm hit Kansas City on Friday night and the team had to slip-slide its way home without playing.

The Bullpups are hoping to make a statement as they have gotten off to a sensational start with a 4-0 record, the closest game being 17 points. They led Abilene by as many as 35 points Tuesday night before settling for an 82-56 triumph.

“I told the guys we’ve got one more (to play) and we’re going to Kansas City on a business trip,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “Now, we are going to get us some sweet Kansas City barbecue on Thursday.”

O’Hara has a limited roster, but is expected to be outrageously athletic, probably the quickest team the Bullpups will go up against this year. 

“They have only eight guys on the roster and really play only seven,” Kinnamon said. “They have one 6-5 bouncy kid inside (Arinze Mgbemena) and they they start a bunch of 5-11 guys. They like to press, they like to pressure. I don’t think they’ve probably seen anyone get out and guard like we can, I hope they haven’t.”

Mgbemena will probably be the best player the Bullpups have faced to date, as Kinnamon said he's already had three 30-point games this season.

Kinnamon said the Bullpups, who lost in the Classic two years ago, want to make amends for their previous appearance.

“Last time we were on TV we probably played our worst game of the year against Liberty North,” Kinnamon said. “It would really be nice to play well.”