McPherson High’s boys basketball team may have played the best opponent it will face all year on New Year’s Day.
It wasn’t on the schedule. It was witnessed by only a smattering few.
But it was top-flight basketball.
It was the annual MHS Alumni Game at the Roundhouse. No score was kept, but it’s safe to say the alums more than held their own.
The alumni team consisted of Todd Alexander, Josh Alexander, Ryan Horton, Peter Horton, Treg Fawl, Tim Kliewer, Keaton Sorenson and Dan Pyle.
The old boys still have some game, even the eldest Alexander, who last laced up his sneaks for the Bullpups in 1989. Perhaps most impressive was the younger Alexander, a 1996 graduate. The powerfully built point guard and NAIA All-American for McPherson College was dazzling with his passing acumen and brutish strength.
The alums also showed they still have the shooting eye, especially Fawl — now the MMS seventh-grade boys basketball coach. When he set his feet, he almost never missed. He still has such a great feel and touch, one reason he’s so good on the golf course.
This lengthy scrimmage was good for the Bullpups, who are ranked No. 2 in Class 4A Division I behind Bishop Miege. They are so used to being superior to their opponents that they needed to see the other side of the coin.
The Bullpups return to action next week with a pair of home games against Winfield and Augusta. Due to a quirk in the schedule, the Bullpups will be done with Winfield after Tuesday even though they have yet to play Buhler, Rose Hill and Augusta in divisional play.
The Bullpups and Vikings met before Christmas and what was expected to be one of the most spirited games on MHS’ schedule turned into a rout in what may be the team’s top performance so far this season. Winfield will, however, have a puncher’s chance due to the presence of Will Adler, but the Bullpups shut him down in the first meeting. It’s hard to imagine he can be stifled two games in a row, but then again you have to wonder about the Vikes’ mental psyche of facing MHS so soon after being obliterated.
Augusta is new to Division III this year, moving up from Division IV to replace Mulvane. The Orioles may be in for a rude awakening since they have been to the Roundhouse only twice in their history.
The Bullpups then wrap up pre-McPherson Invitational play the following week with road games against Buhler and Rose Hill. They certainly do not want to fall asleep on Buhler, which has some nice pieces to work with and a lot of experience. The Crusaders also have an athletic big man on par with Payton Stephens in the form of Jace Williams, one of the state’s top three-sport stars. Rose Hill is a tough place to play, but the Rockets are expected to be much like El Dorado, a team MHS dominated in its season opener.
The McPherson Invitational will certainly be terrific. In addition to the Bullpups, Wichita Heights, Shawnee Mission East, Blue Valley West, Manhattan and Maize are all having good years. Mill Valley is a tourney newcomer, while Hutchinson will be bruising if nothing else.