MHS cagers back home Friday to play Winfield

By Steve Sell
December 14, 2017
Kendall Shaw

Just like the McPherson High football team, the Bullpup basketball teams have spent the early part of the season on the road.

The MHS football team played four of its first five games away from the electric McPherson Stadium confines before finally returning home for a stretch of three games in four weeks.

The Bullpup basketball teams have spent nearly all of December on the road, playing three of four away from the warm-and-fuzzy Roundhouse where their fans packed the only home game against state-ranked Derby.

Finally, the Bullpups have come home. They will host Winfield for Wall of Fame Night on Friday, then wrap up the December portion of the schedule hoping to give an early Christmas present to their admiring fans as Andover comes to town.

Game time Friday will be 6 p.m. for the girls, 7:45 for the boys. The annual Wall of Fame induction ceremony takes place between games and it will be a large class that goes in.

For those who can't make it, take in all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Jim Joyner on the call.

In the girls game, the Bullpups will take on a Viking team that was overwhelmed 66-42 by Augusta on Tuesday and is 1-2, the win over Clearwater.

The Bullpups have never lost to the Vikings under coach Chris Strathman (19-0) and they are 65-7 all-time in the series.

MHS picked up its third win of the season on Tuesday with a 53-36 success against No. 6-ranked Abilene. The Bullpups started slow, trailing 16-11 after a quarter, but then threw up a defensive dragnet by holding the Cowgirls scoreless in the second quarter to take command.

Taylor Robertson had her usual game with 23 points, but it was the emergence of Cassie Cooks with 14 points that was the highlight as the Bullpups had needed some semblance of an inside game.

Strathman is hoping to avoid the slow start that caused some early angst against the Cowgirls.

“We are hoping to get off to a good start on Friday night, unlike the Abilene game,” Strathman said. “Winfield traditionally likes to change defenses a lot to keep people off balance, so hopefully we can adjust on the fly if needed. They also played us some junk defenses last year on Taylor, so that won't surprise us at all to see that as well. The girls are excited to be back home for the next two games as we head into Christmas break.”

The Vikings are painfully young — only two seniors — and don’t have a player taller than 5-8, so this might be a good opportunity for MHS’ inexperienced post players to gain some confidence.

In Tuesday’s 66-41 loss to Augusta, 5-2 sophomore guard Aleigha Gale tossed in 15 points to lead the Vikes.

For the McPherson boys, it’s hard to imagine them playing any better than they did in the first half on Tuesday during the 73-31 rout of Abilene.

The Bullpups punished the Cowboys with a 52-15 first-half salvo and had the game into running clock.

Winfield played even with Augusta in the second half on Tuesday, but the Orioles’ 33-20 halftime lead was too much to overcome as the Orioles were a 69-56 winner. Jordan Mays scored 17 for the Vikes, Caleb Weathers added 14 and Jacob Weber tallied 11.

Bullpup coach Kurt Kinnamon, who has never lost to the Vikings in his coaching tenure as he's 38-0, takes nothing for granted and will approach this game as he would any of the tougher teams on the schedule.

“They’re better than they have been,” Kinnamon said. “They’ve won over Clearwater. Mays is as athletic as any kid we have seen at his size and (Matt) Everett is a load inside that can also step outside and shoot it. We have to continue building on what we got done on Tuesday. Defensively, we want to be a little more crisp in our zone and not take as many chances that leave us out of position and give up open shots.”

The Bullpups’ Big 3 of Ben Pyle (22.8), Mason Alexander (15.3) and Jake Alexander (14.5) have carried the scoring load so far, but starters Thomas Diggs and Drew Labertew are shooting 70 and 56 percent from the field, respectively. And an encouraging note has been the rapid improvement of sophomore Cody Stufflebean, who's providing an inside presence to keep defenses honest. He's shooting 70 percent from the field and averages 4.3 points.