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Bullpups Outstretched by Manhattan 57-46 in MIT Semifinal


By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio


McPHERSON, Kan. – The Semifinals of the 59th Annual McPherson Invitational saw three out of the four teams ranked within the top 10 of their respective classes, yet the one unranked team in the semifinals could be the most dangerous.

Manhattan brought a style of basketball to the court that was similar to the Bullpups in the second semifinal game on Friday, very fundamentally sound offensively and defensively, but the one difference was their length, which caused the Pups problems throughout the night, as the Indians began the game on a 9-2 run, and lead 9-4 at the quarter break, following a basket from Mason Miller.

The second quarter began with another slow start for the Bullpups, as Manhattan would collect 10 of the first 14 points. Defensively their 3-2 zone made it tough for the Bullpups to penetrate any gaps, and offensively McPherson struggled from the field. Meanwhile, Manhattan’s 6’4 post players showed that they could knock down shots from the outside, almost as efficiently as inside, and when a 3-pointer would bank in from the corner, the Pups knew that it would be an uphill battle.

It was a 25-14 Manhattan lead, before Gabe Pyle brought some excitement to the Bullpup crowd, answering with a deep three, and taking off what seemed to be a lid on the home basket. The Pups would score the final 10 points of the half, as Kyden Thomson’s layup as time expired closed the McPherson deficit to 25-21 at the break.

Manhattan would again open the period on a scoring run, taking 10 of the first 12 points in the third quarter, extending their lead to 35-23. Kreighton Kanitz and Cory Muehler would help the Bullpups chip into the deficit, with all 11 points in the third quarter. Muehler would knock down a three to make it a 35-30 game, forcing Manhattan to call a timeout, and after three quarters, the Pups trailed 38-32.

The opening of quarters was not fond of the Bullpups Friday, as Manhattan opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, and McPherson’s shooting struggles would continue. They only turned the basketball over 10 times in the game, and although there were much fewer than Friday, they came at unprecedented times. Owen Pyle would knock down a three to make it 44-39, but that was the closest that the Pups would get in the fourth, as they would fall 57-46

Following the game, Head Coach Kurt Kinnamon said, “I thought our effort was good, I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. We struggled to make baskets, and when you make baskets everything’s easier.”

Last season the Bullpups defeated Topeka Seaman in the third place game of the MIT, and Topeka Seaman would later go on to win the 2022 Class 5A State Title. Coach Kinnamon recognized the importance of the third place game, and said, “Down the stretch we executed some things to get some easy baskets. I was proud of that, I told them that we won’t see a better team than that.. until tomorrow night, but after that, until the state tournament.” He added, “Games like this help make you better.”

He said, “We got outrebounded by two, that’s perfectly acceptable against a team that has superior size to you. I was proud of how they battled. It was just one of those games that because of their length, because of their size the rotation was shortened, guys got tired I’m sure because they played a lot of minutes.”

As Kinnamon shifted his focus to Saturday’s contest against Lawrence Free State, he said, “Teams that win the third place game are the teams that are the toughest.” He concluded by saying, “We need to get a signature win tomorrow night against a very, very good team.” which he mentioned is probably more athletic than Manhattan.

The 7th place game is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. Games will run ahead of schedule due to winter weather in the area. The 5th Place Game will more than likely be played before its scheduled 3:15, which could move up the originally scheduled 5 p.m. consolation tipoff between McPherson and Lawrence Free State.

Notable stats:
C. Muehler 14 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast,
Kr. Kanitz 12 pts, 4 reb,
M. Miller 6 pts, 6 reb, 2 blk,
K. Thompson 6 pts, 4 ast,
G. Pyle 6 pts, 2 reb, 2 blk,
O. Pyle 5 pts, 3 reb
G. Wedel 1 reb


Photos By Kendall Shaw