It was vintage Bullpup basketball.
And because it was, the Manhattan Indians never really stood a chance.
The Bullpups saved their best for last Saturday night in the 51st annual McPherson Invitational, as they jumped on the Indians from the word go and never looked back in an 81-58 destruction for their 21st tourney title.
All-Tourney pick Drew Pyle’s three early 3-pointers got the motor running and by the time the first quarter was over, MHS was humming with a 23-7 bulge and the Roundhouse crowd that resembled yesteryear was blowing the roof off the grand old edifice.
The coronation lasted over the next three quarters, as the Bullpups shot an astounding 74 percent against a Manhattan team that had entered the game with only one loss and is deservedly ranked in Class 6A.
“It was a great start,” said MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon, whose team is now 12-0 on the year. “I think maybe our pressure was something like they hadn’t seen before.”
The outcome was never in doubt after MHS pushed the lead to 38-19 by the half, shooting 14 of 21. But it was even better in the second half, as Manhattan took some chances on defense and tournament MVP Kyler Kinnamon was able to expose those gambles, turning the game into a Bullpup layup drill. They shot 17 of 21 in the second half, only two shots coming outside of the arc.
Kinnamon finished as MHS’ leading scorer with 20 points, going 8 of 9 from the field. He also handed out seven assists. Pyle, who was 5 of 8 from 3-point, scored 19, All-Tourney Payton Stephens added 15 and Avery Gabel gave MHS a huge boost with 14, making 6 of 7 floor shots.
“It was nice to get him (Gabel) some easy baskets,” Kinnamon said. “First half I had to take him out one time because he had a wide-open 3 and he thought he needed to get closer. It was the only miss he had on the night. It’s good to see him have that type of game.”
For Stephens, playing against his old team, it started rocky with only four first-half points, but he played with a lot verve in the second half to add 11 to his total.
Manhattan was led by All-Tourney pick Pierson McAtee, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, showing why he’s one of the better players in Class 6A. Garrett Francis furnished 13 points and All-Tourney Garrett Awbrey supplied 12. Trevor Hudgins gave Manhattan four in double figures with 10.
The Indians were 18 of 40 from the field and 17 of 21 from the line, but simply were overwhelmed by the Bullpups’ precision.
The Bullpups certainly earned the respect of first-year Manhattan coach Benji George.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I looked at the stats from the last two games and I’m thinking to myself that they just haven’t shot it very well. Without knowing a whole lot about them, maybe that’s just kind of how they are. Obviously that changed tonight. They just hit everything from the start and it never changed. They rose the occasion. They’re well coached and they run their stuff well. They definitely made us pay tonight. I told our players to play without fear and I didn’t want to start a championship game by sitting back (in a zone). It didn’t work, but I’m not sure I would necessarily have done anything differently.”
MHS (81) — Loecker 1-2, 0-0, 2; D. Pyle 7-10, 0-0, 19; B. Pyle 1-1, 0-0, 2; Kinnamon 8-9, 4-6, 20; Stephens 4-7, 7-10, 15; Wine 3-3, 0-0, 6; Nutter 1-3, 1-2, 3; Gabel 6-7, 2-2, 14. Totals — 31-42, 14-20, 81. 3-pointers — D. Pyle 5.
Manhattan (58) — Ekart 1-1, 3-4, 5; Dillon 1-2, 2-2, 4; Francis 4-10, 2-2, 13; Hudgins 3-5, 2-2, 10; Awbrey 5-13, 2-3, 12; McAtee 4-7, 6-8, 14; Ostermann 0-2, 0-0, 0. Totals — 18-40, 17-21, 58. 3-pointers — Francis 3, Hudgins 2.