No. 1 vs. No. 2 — MHS plays Tuesday at Andale

By Steve Sell
January 26, 2015
Kendall Shaw

When the KBCA rankings are released later today, McPherson High’s boys will be No. 1 in Class 4A Division I, with Andale No. 2.

How fitting.

The two undefeated titans, coming off tournament championships over the weekend, will  meet in a gargantuan matchup on Tuesday in Andale. It’s boys only, with the freshman game starting at 4:15, the JV game at 6:00 and the varsity game just after 7:30.

Andale is rolling out the red carpet for the McPherson fans as an all-you-can-eat soup supper is available from 5 to 7 p.m. in the school’s commons area. A free-will donation will be taken to benefit the Mark Elpers family.

The Bullpups survived 5A power Wichita Heights in the McPherson Invitational semifinals on Friday, then blew out ranked 6A school Manhattan on Saturday to win the championship. The Indians didn’t face quite the level of competition, but grinded out a 39-29 win on Saturday over Garden Plain to take the Adolph Rupp Invitational at Halstead.

Yet, MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon, whose team is 12-0, says the Indians have proven their worth against good teams.

“It is very rare to have a regular-season matchup of  No. 1 against No. 2,” Kinnamon said. “Andale has played extremely well this year, including a victory over Dodge City TOC champions Derby. They are a tough-minded team coming off a state football championship.”

Kinnamon already has watched hours of film on the Indians and it was an eye-opener.

“They possess great size, good outside shooting and a good playmaker that makes great decisions in Hunter Knoblauch,” Kinnamon said. “I am sure that it is going to be a very charged environment at their place. We need a great following to help offset their homecourt advantage. In order for us to win, we are going to have to do a great job on the backboards and play without turning the ball over.”

In addition to Hunter Knoblauch, his little brother Bo and the enormous Jeff Ast are other standouts. Ast is 6-6 and 260, so he presents a lot of problems on the glass. Both Knoblauchs can stroke the 3-pointer, while 6-2 Clint Walstad, 6-3 Jason Hermreck and 6-5 Lane Macari give Andale its top six players back from a team that took third place in 4A Division II last year.

MHS played one of its finest games of the year on Saturday to win its 21st Invitational title. The Bullpups shot an amazing 74 percent — 31 of 42 — to dismantle once-beaten Manhattan, 81-58. Tournament MVP Kyler Kinnamon scored 20 points, one more than Drew Pyle, who made five 3-pointers. Pyle made the All-Tournament Team, as did Payton Stephens, who had 15 points on Saturday.