The buildup for the McPherson High girls’ basketball game with Buhler here Friday is palpable, but there’s a little matter of a road trip to Augusta for the Bullpups to navigate through first.
In the classic “trap game” scenario, the Bullpups must not look past the Orioles Tuesday night.
Tip time is 6 p.m., with the boys to follow. KBBE-FM 96.7 coverage starts at 5:45 p.m.
MHS is 7-1 in AVCTL Division III, a game back of Buhler. Also, the Bullpups are a game back of the Crusaders in the race for the No. 1 sub-state seed.
The Bullpups handled the Orioles 66-35 in the first meeting, but they’ll be heading into foreign territory as the teams have not met for a number of years.
“We can’t at all (afford to look past Augusta),” said MHS coach Chris Strathman, whose team is 14-4 overall as it has rebuilt on the fly after losing four starters to graduation. “Augusta has been playing much better. They beat Winfield and I know people say ‘you guys killed Winfield twice,’ but Winfield is really a pretty good team. We just caught them on bad nights. Augusta just gone done beating Winfield, so that was a good win for them. Just looking at the scores of the games, they’ve been improving a lot.”
In the first meeting with the Orioles, MHS started slowly, but had a huge second quarter to open up a 38-13 lead by halftime. Strathman said it’s important for his team to get off to a good start, so not to allow the Orioles to gain some confidence.
In the boys’ game, the Bullpups will be attempting to duplicate their 72-46 win over Augusta, which apparently didn’t come away that impressed with the state’s No. 1-ranked team.
“Interesting, Augusta made the comment (after the first game) ‘wait till you come to our place,’” Kinnamon said.
In other words, the Orioles have poked the bear and they might not like how the bear retaliates.
The Bullpups actually have more tangible goals at stake. With a victory, they can tie the school record for most consecutive wins in school history (34), keep their record perfect at 19-0 and keep alive Kinnamon’s bid for No. 400 at MHS here Friday against none other than arch-rival Buhler, which is sure to have the Roundhouse rocking.
It is unsure yet as to the availability of Payton Stephens (knee) and Avery Gabel (flu) for Tuesday. The Bullpups did not have either player on Friday when they dominated Hutchinson, but the Orioles are a much tougher team. They do have some quality shooters and figure to feed off their crowd, which will be thirsting for an upset.