KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For a half, the O’Hara Celtics must have felt like they were playing Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics.
The O-Celtics found themselves bedazzled by an amazing performance by McPherson High, which played as though it invented the game by sprinting a 26-point lead before settling for a 49-27 advantage at the break.
"I told them the first half I really feel like we played about as close to as we can play as far as playing well,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said.
The second half didn’t elate the coach as much, as MHS — up 62-40 after three quarters — frittered away 14 points of that advantage before settling for a 74-64 victory to even their Hy-Vee Shootout record at 1-1 since it didn’t get to play last year because of the ice storm that cancelled Saturday’s session.
The Bullpups played as well as any team in the tournament in that astonishing first half, going 19 of 26 from the field, including 6 of 7 from 3-point. But the game turned rough in the second half and play became rather disjointed.
But it was still a win, the fifth in a row.
“It was rough,” Kinnamon said of the second-half play. “We didn’t handle that very well. We turned it over quite a bit.”
The first half is what people will be talking about though. Almost every MHS basket seemed to come off a spectacular pass and the Celtics were hurt by the fact top player Arinze Mgbemena didn’t play the second quarter because of two fouls. Even though the game was getting away, he was kept on the bench, much to McPherson’s delight as the springy 6-5 sophomore was a handful.
The Bullpups still finished with some nice numbers. They were 30 of 54 from the field for 56 percent and 7 of 15 from 3-point for a highly-creditable 47 percent.
Payton Stephens rammed his way to the basket for 18 points. Kyler Kinnamon scored 17 and dished out 10 assists. He was 7 of 8 from the field and broke the seal from 3-point as he made his first two treys of the year. Drew Pyle continued his solid play with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Nick Naudet scored 19 for the Celtics, while Dezmond McDaniel added 14 and Mgbemena tallied 13 as he was able to avoid foul trouble the rest of the way. The Celtics’ 24 points in the fourth quarter did not please Kinnamon, but this was easily the most athletic team the Bullpups have faced to date and probably few will surpass it the rest of the year.
MHS (74) — D. Pyle 4-11, 4-6, 15; Kinnamon 7-8, 1-1, 17; Stephens 9-20, 0-3, 18; Nutter 3-4, 0-0, 7; Gabel 3-4, 0-0, 6; McDaniel 1-2, 0-0, 2; Loecker 2-3, 2-2, 6; B. Pyle 1-2, 0-0, 3. Totals — 30-54, 7-12, 74. 3-pointers — D. Pyle 3, Kinnamon 2, Nutter 1, B. Pyle 1.
O’Hara (64) — N. Naudet 8-13, 0-1, 19; C. Naudet 3-11, 0-0, 8; Dez McDaniel 5-15, 4-4, 14; Mgbemena 5-6, 3-4, 13; Barnes 4-8, 0-1, 8; Der. McDaniel 1-1, 0-0, 2; Davis 0-4, 0-0, 0. Totals — 26-58, 7-10, 64. 3-pointers — N. Naudet 3, C. Naudet 2.