After back-to-back basketball games where they weren’t pushed, McPherson High’s girls can expect plenty of resistance Friday when they travel to Hutchinson for a matchup of state-ranked teams.
The Bullpups enter the 6 p.m. game at the Salthawk Activity Center as the No. 3 team in Class 4A Division I, while Hutchinson has climbed to No. 7 in Class 6A.
The Bullpups are coming off lopsided wins over Rose Hill and El Dorado, but have to adjust themselves mentally for their toughest challenge since losing to Olathe South in the finals of the Mid America Classic.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” MHS coach Chris Strathman said. “We felt like we let one get away at our place last year. They really play defense well. They’re just a good defensive team. They’re running a lot of good sets to get into their offense, a lot of ball screens. There’s going to be a lot of things we’re going to have to be ready to defend.”
The 13-4 Bullpups breezed to a 40-point win over El Dorado on Tuesday after lambasting Rose Hill by 52. Hutchinson, however, will provide much more athleticism and skill.
The Salthawks are coming off a 44-37 win over Derby behind 17 points by Jenna Higgins, who is a deadly shooter as she knocked down five 3-pointers. Freshman Kelsey Hazell added eight points.
In the boys’ game, it will be a rematch of last month’s McPherson Invitational opener when the Bullpups slogged their way to a 56-43 victory. Hutchinson came out and got in MHS’ face early, not allowing the Bullpups to get off to their customary big lead, like the 22-3 haymaker they threw at El Dorado on Tuesday.
The Bullpups probably will be without center Payton Stephens, who is doubtful because of a sore knee. He played only a half on Tuesday before being shut down.
Without Stephens, the Bullpups have precious little size and will rely more on their quickness. They were without part-time starter Avery Gabel on Tuesday with the flu, so there’s some question about his status.
Hutchinson will attempt to muddy up the game as it did in the first meeting. The Salthawks also don’t have much size, but feature a nice player in Trent Webster, who sparkled in the McPherson Invitational.
The Salthawks were defeated 58-45 on Tuesday by Derby, with Ryan Stoecklein scoring 11 points to lead the way. Webster was held to eight.
Kinnamon would like to see this meeting play out differently.
“For one thing we have to make some shots from the perimeter,” Kinnamon said. “We’ll run a little different offense at them that maybe they haven’t seen with that zone. That (rough and choppy) is just the way Hutch plays. We’ll have to do a good job of solving that zone.”
MHS enters the game 17-0 and winners of 32 in a row, two shy of the school record. If form holds true, the Bullpups would have a chance to break the record in the season finale at home against Buhler.