It was "Feel Good Friday" for the McPherson High boys.
The Bullpups compiled a laundry list of amazing accomplishments before a standing-room-only crowd with a 74-50 Senior Night victory over arch-rival Buhler.
1) The Bullpups completed a 20-0 regular season.
2) They captured the AVCTL Division III title with a 10-0 record.
3) It was a school-record 35th consecutive victory, erasing the old mark of 34 set in 2003-04.
4) Coach Kurt Kinnamon recorded his 400th victory at MHS against just 70 losses.
5) Respected senior student assistant coach Grant Barrett suited up, started the game and then made an amazing shot at the buzzer to put the cherry on top of the victory, which Kinnamon said was the top play of the night.
Once the Bullpups rid themselves of their early-game hiccups, they dominated the Crusaders the rest of the way, though the final score was somewhat deceiving.
"I don't know if we were too amped up, but I know some of our heads were spinning," Kinnamon said as the Senior Night festivities filled the Roundhouse with emotion. "They (Buhler) are a talented team. It's not going to surprise me in the least if we end up playing next Saturday night up in Hays (for the sub-state title)."
MHS will first play Ulysses at 6 p.m. Thursday for the right to play either Buhler or Hays as it wants to get back to Salina for the chance to defend its state championship.
Buhler punched MHS right in the mouth, up 11-2 to ruffle the Bullpup faithful. But MHS never panicked, taking its first lead at 18-16 and an old-fashioned Kyler Kinnamon 3-point play just before the half pushed it out to 32-23.
"I thought once we decided to attack I thought we did a better job of attacking the middle of that zone," Kinnamon said. "We're going to have to play against some zone, for sure."
As mightily as the spectacular Jace Williams tried to keep Buhler in the game with his outrageous athleticism, MHS led 59-48 going into the final period as Avery Gabel scored just before the buzzer.
Williams picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in a hurry in the fourth quarter and from there, the Bullpups attacked the rim as they finished the game on a 22-7 blitz.
The three MHS seniors had a great night. Payton Stephens challenged Williams time and again to finish with 19 points, Kyler Kinnamon scored 16 and Nathan Nutter had 15. MHS shot 58 percent from the field, 78 from the line and turned it over only five times. Kinnamon also had nine assists as he can make such an impact on the game in so many ways.
Williams, one of the state's best athletes, scored 15 points to lead the Crusaders. He awed the crowd with his dunks and also blocked three shots.
The JV boys blasted their way past the Crusaders 64-29 behind 19 points by Ben Pyle in two quarters, including five 3-pointers. Mason Alexander added 15.
MHS’ ninth-grade boys completed a perfect 19-0 season by surviving a defensive tussle from the Crusaders, 47-35. The Bullpups displayed their depth as no player scored in double figures. Connor Williams led the balanced attack with nine points.
MHS (74) — Loecker 0-1, 0-0, 0; D. Pyle 3-6, 2-2, 9; Kinnamon 6-11, 3-3, 16; Stephens 8-13, 3-4, 19; M. Alexander 0-0, 2-2, 2; Barrett 1-2, 0-0, 2; Wine 3-7, 3-4, 9; Nutter 7-9, 1-3, 15; Gabel 1-1, 0-0, 2. Totals — 29-50, 14-18, 74. 3-pointers — D. Pyle 1, Kinnamon 1.
Buhler (50) — Joyce 0-3, 4-4, 4; Lackey 2-7, 0-0, 6; Webster 2-8, 2-4, 7; Davis 4-6, 1-2, 9; Ricker 0-1, 0-0, 0; Tolbert 1-1, 0-0, 2; Wedel 1-3, 5-7, 7; Williams 6-10, 3-4, 15. Totals — 16-40, 15-21, 50. 3-pointers — Lackey 2, Webster 1.
MHS JV (64) — McDaniel 7, Loecker 4, B. Pyle 19, Malm 3, Alexander 15, Spaich 6, Leaf 2, Gerbrandt 4, Brossard 4.
MHS 9th (47) — Labertew 6, Williams 9, Armstrong 4, J. Alexander 6, Diggs 8, Seidl 6, Brossard 8.