MHS boys to take some time off

By Steve Sell
January 28, 2015

Kurt Kinnamon is going to give his McPherson High boys a few days off.

They deserve it.

The Bullpups on Tuesday completed one of the most grueling four-game, six-day stretches a team can be subjected to.

MHS successfully ran the gauntlet, knocking off a pair of Class 6A schools, one of the best teams in 5A and finally the team ranked directly behind it in the Class 4A Division I poll.

All of that with a team that has been coughing and wheezing and – quite frankly — a few of them looked like dead men walking on Tuesday, but they reached down deep and gutted it out.

The Bullpups’ character can’t be questioned. The mental and physical toll extracted from this stretch will take a week to recover from. Fortunately, the Bullpups won’t play again until a week from Friday when Dodge City comes to town.

The Bullpups are 13-0 with seven regular-season games remaining. After the Dodge City game, there are just two home games left — Rose Hill and the always entertaining matchup with Buhler, which closes out the regular season.

The four road games are rather diverse. A trip to Augusta could be a potential land mine, while the others are against El Dorado, Hutchinson and Great Bend — all teams that are struggling.

Unless the Bullpups have an off night, they should be able to run the regular-season table. If so, win No. 400 at MHS for Kinnamon would occur against Buhler and coach Denny Wahlgren. He entered this season with a staggering 380-70 record in 19 years and No. 400 would be in his 20th year — by the math I learned that averages out to 20 wins a year.

When you consider the Bullpups play only 20 regular-season games, that’s a remarkable stat. It goes to show how often MHS has been involved in postseason play.

Tuesday’s 57-55 gut-check against a physical and athletic Andale team will be one of the season’s high-water marks. Kinnamon said what it proved is that his team can win a big game on the road against a quality opponent amid a hostile environment. If this game had been at the Roundhouse, ear plugs would have been necessary. Andale had the more physical presence, but MHS had the more basketball savvy. You could see the general respect the teams had for each other as classy sportsmanship was evident.

I’ve never covered a game that had such wild scoring swings. There was never a stretch where the teams simply traded baskets. They traded runs and the Bullpups came up with the final one.

I am hoping both MHS and Andale make state because you want to see the best teams there. Miege finally lost its first game last week, while Independence and Basehor-Linwood are other Top 5 teams. Don’t count out the likes of Hayden, Ottawa, Abilene, Paola, Hays and Eudora. 4A Division I may be the deepest class in Kansas and a lot of good teams are going to be on the outside looking in at Salina in March.

If the Bullpups do make state, my hope is they’ll be opposite both Miege and Andale as games against those teams are only finals-worthy. I’m sure those schools are thinking the same thing.