McPherson High’s boys thought they were glad to be the No. 1 seed for the Class 4A Division I State Basketball Tournament.
But after Wednesday’s proceedings at Salina’s Bicentennial Center, they might have been better off being No. 2.
MHS won the flip with Basehor-Linwood as both teams were 22-0 following their sub-state championship victories.
Granted, that earned MHS an easier first-round game, as it totally crushed overmatched Chanute by 35 points on Wednesday — and that’s with the starters playing barely half the game.
But now it sets up a semifinal game on Friday with Kansas City area power Bishop Miege, which for half the season was the No. 1-ranked team in the class, not the Bullpups.
As for the other side of the bracket, Basehor-Linwood duplicated McPherson’s breeze with a first-round romp of Wellington.
Meanwhile Ottawa, the No. 3 seed, struggled for the most part against Southeast Kansas League team Fort Scott before emerging with a nine-point victory.
Basehor-Linwood and Ottawa will square off Friday in a rematch of an earlier game this season, which Basehor coasted as it won by 17 points.
According to most of those in the media I talked with — I didn’t see the Basehor game but I saw plenty of the Bobcats last year — it should have little trouble holding up its end of a potential championship game matching what would be two 24-0 teams.
But I took in some of the Miege game with Andale and it certainly served notice that it will be the best team MHS has faced this year.
“Miege is a very skilled basketball team,” MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “They are quick and have good size on the inside. They are extremely patient and handle the ball well."
The Stags are a senior-laden team — eight of the 12 on the roster — and are physically impressive. They also post numerous problems.
“We have to contain the ball and prevent their bigs from getting easy touches inside,” Kinnamon said. “They will run more sets than any team that we play. They get up and down the floor faster than anyone we have played, so transition defense is going to be a key to the game. They play multiple defenses, so we have be prepared for anything. They do not force the break and run a ton of sets in the halfcourt.”
Jacob Meurer, a 6-7 center, scored 14 points to lead the Stags in their 16-point win over Andale, a team that took MHS down to the wire in what has been its closest game this year (57-55). Semaj Ray is an athletic 6-1 guard and Alston Jones is also a physical guard. Zecharaiah Benbow is a musuclar 6-3 inside presence.
Miege had a 33-23 rebounding advantage against Andale, which is the most physical team MHS has played. So the game could come down to the battle of the boards.
The Stags certainly won’t be intimidated by the Bullpups’ history and glossy record. They played a big-time schedule, in fact they played all bigger-class schools during the regular season and didn’t play a 4A school until the sub-state.
This will be the fifth meeting between the teams, all coming in the state tournament, with the Bullpups having won three of four, the only loss coming in the 2005 Class 5A championship game.
McPherson and Miege are perhaps the two-most storied names in Kansas basketball. The Bullpups are the pride of Kansas' public schools, while Miege is the No. 1 private-school power. Both schools have historic girls’ programs, with the Stags having won 17 titles (with No. 18 a virtual lock this year), while the Bullpups have eight. And when the teams meet, it often serves as fuel for the public school vs. private school debate, as there are many around the state who believe private schools have distinct advantages and should even play up a class.