Bragging rights won’t be the only thing on the line when McPherson High School faces Buhler Saturday night in the Roundhouse.
For the third time this season, the two rivals will meet on the hardcourt, but this time a berth at the state tournament is on the line.
McPherson is 2-0 against Buhler this season and has dominated the rivalry for over a decade now. But in a sub-state championship, McPherson head coach Kurt Kinnamon knows you can throw all that out the window.
“Bottom line is we’re going to have to defend,” Kinnamon said about Saturday’s game. “We’ve defended pretty well all year long. . . it ought to be an electric atmosphere in here Saturday night."
Before the Bullpups could turn their attention toward Buhler, they had to take down Ulysses Friday night in the sub-state semifinals. Despite a slight slow start, the Bullpups cruised to a 75-32 win thanks to 29 points from Ben Pyle.
Defensively, the Bullpups were locked in from the get-go. While the offense took a few minutes in the first quarter to get situated, it was only a matter of time before the Bullpups began to run Ulysses out of the Roundhouse.
McPherson kept Ulysses off the scoreboard until the 2:34 mark of the first quarter, but by then, the Pups had put 10 points on the scoreboard. After taking a 16-7 lead into the second quarter, the Bullpups put the game away in the next eight minutes by outscoring Ulysses 24-5, including a 17-0 run to close out the half.
Ulysses put up a fight in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter was won by McPherson, 14-4, as no Bullpup needed to play more than 23 minutes to earn the victory.
Pyle led the team with 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Jake Alexander had 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and Mason Alexander had a game-high six assists to go along with 10 points.
The Bullpups were also 29-of-52 from the field for an impressive 56 percent.
“The first round of the tournament is always the hardest. When you’re in our position, we know this is a game we’re supposed to win. I thought we did a pretty good job of being focused,” McPherson head coach Kurt Kinnamon said.
The Roundhouse will be rocking Saturday night, starting with the girls at 6 p.m. and followed by the boys at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Gallagher Martin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel