The 2018 McPherson High School senior class will never know what it’s like to lose in the McPherson Invitational.

For the fourth year in a row, the Bullpups won the premiere midseason tournament in the state, defeating three powerhouse programs in three days. McPherson capped off an exciting run Saturday night with a 61-51 win over Bishop Carroll.

The Bullpups had the tournament’s Most Valuable Player — Ben Pyle — and a decisive home-court advantage, while the entire team certainly came out stronger on Saturday than they went in on Thursday.

Like Friday’s semifinal game against Shawnee Mission East, McPherson played from behind for most of the first half before eventually pulling away late in the second half. But for the 12th time in 13 games this season, the Bullpups found a way to win.

“I feel like we got better this tournament; we really did,” head coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “We had a great tournament defensively. I feel like we grew up this tournament, particularly our younger guys.”

The Bullpups started the game well, jumping out to a 7-2 lead, but Bishop Carroll stormed back with 10 unanswered points. Jake Alexander, who came off the bench to score 14 points, knocked down a pair of free throws as the first quarter expired, giving the Bullpups a 15-13 lead.

The second quarter was controlled by the Golden Eagles. Bishop Carroll took its largest lead of the game at seven with a minute left in the half, and a buzzer beater by Tanner Mans lifted the Golden Eagles to a 31-25 lead at the half.

The Bullpups quickly erased the six-point deficit, as Cody Stufflebean finished an old fashioned three-point-play to tie the game at 34 at the 5:28 mark. As the third quarter was winding to an end, Pyle beat a defender baseline and finished with a thunderous dunk which brought the home crowd to its feet, and tied the game at 40 heading into the fourth quarter.

An offensive rebound from Mason Alexander resulted in a 3-pointer by Jake Alexander just 45 seconds into the fourth quarter. From there, the Bullpups never surrendered their lead, as the defense stifled Bishop Carroll in the final eight minutes.

McPherson held a decisive 21-11 advantage in the fourth quarter.

“We played well down the stretch,” Kinnamon said. “The main thing was we did a better job with ball moment. I thought we did a really nice job of running our stuff and being more patient.”

Pyle led all scorers with 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He also had a game-high 10 rebounds in over 31 minutes of action.

Stufflebean had a breakthrough tournament, finishing off the three-day stretch with 10 points in over 22 minutes of playing time. Mason Alexander also had 10 points as four Bullpups finished in double figures.

Jake Alexander’s 14 points were a welcome sight, but McPherson fans were simply happy to see the junior on the court after missing Thursday and Friday with an injured foot.

The Bullpups have a short turnout when they travel to Newton on Tuesday. After an emotional three games at the McPherson Invitational, the Bullpups will need their full attention for the Railers.

“We cannot go on the road and have a big letdown and let the momentum we’ve built get away,” Kinnamon said.

Tuesday night at Newton will be a boys only game, as the girls are preparing for the Mid America Classic this week.

In other McPherson Invitational games, Shawnee Mission East captured third place with a 71-56 win over Lawrence Free State. Shawnee Mission East’s Zane Meeks had 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting to lead all scorers.

In the fifth-place game, a balanced attack from Derby was able to outlast the three-headed monster of Wichita North for a 87-75 win. Derby had four players score in double figures, while three players for Wichita North accounted for all but three of its total points.

Finally, Junction City ended the tournament with a thrilling 56-55 overtime win over Blue Valley West for seventh place. Junction City fell behind by seven after the first quarter and trailed by as many as nine before pulling out the comeback victory.

The 2018 McPherson High School senior class will never know what it’s like to lose in the McPherson Invitational.

For the fourth year in a row, the Bullpups won the premiere midseason tournament in the state, defeating three powerhouse programs in three days. McPherson capped off an exciting run Saturday night with a 61-51 win over Bishop Carroll.

The Bullpups, now 12-1, will turnaround and face Newton on Tuesday.