The McPherson High School basketball teams hit the court on Monday for the first time since playing for a pair of state championships last March as practice is officially underway for all winter sports. Both teams have the returning talent to match or exceed last year’s success, and it all starts with that first practice.

The McPherson High boys, who have appeared in the last four state championship finals, were without a few familiar faces due to the football team still alive and practicing hard for Andale this Friday. A couple of starters and a few key role players are still playing football, but the Roundhouse was still full of talent Monday night.

Seniors Ben Pyle and Mason Alexander, along with junior Jake Alexander, looked confident running the offense and in drills. Pyle and Jake Alexander were effortlessly throwing down two-handed slams in layup lines, while Mason Alexander was by far the most confident and experienced point guard when the team was going through its offense.

Outside of the big-three, junior Aren Trost looked impressive practicing with the first-team offense. Trost has great size at 6 feet 4 inches, and displayed athleticism and the ability to play above the rim. He could be a player off the bench in the mix for playing time.

The boys begin the season on Dec. 1 at El Dorado.

The McPherson High girls were without University of Texas San Antonio commit Mandi Cooks who is still out with injury, but University of Oklahoma commit Taylor Robertson was front and center as the girls began practice.

The girls looked sharp on day one, as Robertson, Jaycee Burghart, Claire Yowell, Andrea Sweat, Cassie Cooks, Riley Hett, and a few others looked comfortable running up and down the court and maneuvering the offense. Even without All State forward Mandi Cooks, the Bullpups had a lot of experience at Monday’s practice and really looked in sync with each other.

No doubt there are some kinks and rust to work through, but if the first practice was any indication, the girls should be ready to go on Dec. 1 at El Dorado.

Contact Gallagher Martin by email at gmartin@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel