There's something to be said about a bunch of guys who have played basketball together their entire lives compared to a group of tremendous individuals recently put together that in time could be outstanding.
McPherson High's boys' familiarity at both ends of the court was simply too much for the new-look Derby Panthers on Tuesday as the well-oiled Bullpup machine rolled to a 22-point halftime lead and wound up coming away with a 73-58 victory, a margin that nobody could have foreseen.
"They did a really good job and we did a good job of attacking pressure and were able to get some easy baskets," said MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon, whose team will take a lot of momentum to Kansas City for Friday's rematch with Bishop Miege. "Obviously Ben (Pyle) was white-hot, so that helps. The thing I really liked is that I looked at the halftime stats and we turned the ball over only 4 times in the half and were up ahead in rebounds by 8. That was really good."
After a slow start that was punctuated by a passel of fouls on both teams, the Bullpups went to their trap defense in the second quarter and it produced a 26-10 advantage, swelling the lead to 43-21 at the half and the margin reached as many as 26 in the second half before the Bullpups finally looked mortal with a pedestrian fourth quarter.
Pyle showed his myriad of skills with a double-double in the first half alone with 24 points and 11 rebounds and finished with monster totals of 35 points and 13 rebounds. And he didn't even take a shot in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously Ben carried us offensively tonight," Kinnamon said. "He's an outstanding shooter, but he had more spring than I what I've seen. Some of his follows were really good and was up around the basket. There's just no other way to say it, he was special tonight."
Jake Alexander chipped in with 15 as he has been consistent so far.
There's no question Derby — which will be back next month for the McPherson Invitational — will be outstanding in time as it's trying to incorporate four new transfers, but in the first half it was every man for himself as it shot just 6 of 23 from the field. Valley Center transfer Tyler Brown was every bit as good as advertised as he scored 18 points after averaging 30 for Valley Center last year.
Kinnamon liked how his backup players kept the game rolling and did not allow a dropoff. Cody Stufflebean highlighted the bench brigade hit 3 of 3 shots in the first half and scored 6 points.
"I thought our bench played really, really well," he said. "Not just one, but a lot of them came in and did some really nice things."
The MHS JVs displayed their wealth of depth as 10 players scored in a 65-52 victory behind 13 points by Stufflebean.
The MHS ninth-grade boys won a thriller, holding off a late Derby charge for a 49-47 victory. Jayton Alexander tossed in 19 points to lead the Bullpups and Aaron Powell furnished 12.
The Bullpups will now gear up for Miege, which it has lost to each of the last two years in the state championship game.
"We needed to have momentum going to Miege," Kinnamon said. "To have some confidence. Hopefully we gained a little bit of that."
MHS (73) — Labertew 2-2, 1-3, 5; M. Alexander 1-7, 5-7, 7; Jk. Alexander 5-12, 5-7, 15; Diggs 1-4, 0-0, 2; B. Pyle 13-20, 3-3, 35, Stufflebean 3-3, 0-0, 6; Kinnamon 0-2, 0-0, 0; Trost 0-1, 0-0, 0; Jays. Alexander 1-4, 0-0, 3. Totals — 26-56, 14-20, 73. 3-pointers — B. Pyle 6, Jays. Alexander 1.
Derby (58) — Brown 6-13, 3-4, 18; Washington 0-2, 0-0, 0; Adler 2-3, 0-0, 6; Hood 3-5, 4-7, 11; B. Mocaby 2-6, 1-2, 5; J. Mocaby 0-1, 2-2, 2; Karsak, 3-6, 0-1, 8; Valentin 2-10, 3-6, 8; Brown 0-1, 0-0, 0. Totals — 18-47 9-29, 13-22, 58. 3-pointers — Brown 3, Karsak 2, Adler 2, Hood 1, Valentin 1.
MHS JV (65) — M. Alexander 8, Stufflebean 13, Hoppes 8, Koehn 2, Hoover 8, Kinnamon 8, Koehn 2, Courtney 3, Trost 9, S. Pyle 4.
MHS 9th (49) — J. Alexander 19, E. Pyle 7, Powell 12, Gerbrandt 3, Hardman 8.