SALINA — It was the Jake Alexander show Friday night as the McPherson High School boys basketball team ran away with the 54-44 victory over Arkansas City High School in the Class 4A Division I Semifinals. The Bullpups are now one win away from winning their 14th state championship in program history.
The Bullpups started off shooting back-to-back 3-pointers by both Ben Pyle and Alexander.
Alexander was on a roll for the Bullpups with two 3-pointers and a layup basket. Turnovers were an issue for both teams. McPherson gave up 17 turnovers while Ark City gave up 12 in the first half.
Ark City came knocking on the door by keeping it a close ballgame. Frustration started to come for the Bullpups after not knocking down open shots. Bullpups head coach Kurt Kinnamon didn't enjoy the shooting attempts his boys were creating. It was 26-22 going into halftime.
"I wasn't pleased with our shot selection first half. We came out and made some shots earlier, but I don't think it was great. There were obviously some things we could've done better to make the gap better, but Ark City did a good job. They played hard and are well-coached," Kinnamon said.
Both Alexander and Pyle had scored 24 of the 26 points going in the first half. Alexander shot 50 percent on his 3-point attempts.
As the game got more physical in the third quarter, it became a tied ballgame with less than three minutes left. That's when Jayse Alexander nailed a 3-pointer to end the third period and turned the game around.
It was all McPherson in the fourth quarter. Jake Alexander kept making his presence felt on both offense and defense.
Offensively, he and Pyle were the only two Bullpups to score in double-figures with 40 points combined. On defense, he locked the Bulldogs' best player Cevin Clark, who finished the game with 15 points.
"He was really aggressive. If you jump in the hindsight of the ball screen, he's really good at rejecting it and getting it to the basket. He was really good from both ends," Kinnamon said.
Buckets after buckets, Ark City was not able to respond back to McPherson's fourth quarter run. After an ally-oop dunk from Mason Alexander to Pyle, the Bullpups sealed the deal.
"We've talked about it all year long that this team has spurt ability, and we had another one of those spurt. I'm happy with that," Kinnamon.
With McPherson on their way to their fifth straight finals, they have to go through the reigning champs Shawnee Mission-Bishop Miege High School on Saturday at 6:15 p.m.
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