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McPherson High Girls Claim 16th Straight League Title; MHS Boys Continue Hot Shooting in Towanda


By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio


TOWANDA, Kan. – The Bullpup Basketball teams claimed their share of AVCTL Div. III on Friday, with double-digit wins over the Circle Thunderbirds.

In the girls’ game, it didn’t take long for each of the five Bullpup starters to get into the scoring column, as MHS opened the game scoring the first 11 points, building a 20-6 lead after a quarter. 

Jordan Sears and Jayla McLeod found one another on a number of occasions in the first half, as the two post players combined for 30 points on the night, and the Pups would take a 31-16 lead into the half. 

“I thought the girls came out pretty sharp,” said Head Coach Chris Strathman, adding, “The first quarter was good for us, we got some steals in transition, and some good extra passes for finishes too.”

After Sears opened the third quarter with a three, the Thunderbirds would go on a 9-2 run, to cut the lead to 36-25 before Coach Strathman would call a timeout to refocus his team. 

“They scored thirty-second half, and that was the biggest thing, I would say I was disappointed with giving up thirty points in the second half.” Strathman was however pleased that his team was able to take control early, and lead the entire game, although the Thunderbirds threatened with a few small runs.

The Pups would rain in three straight from beyond the arc in the third, with baskets coming from Karter Alvord, Chloe Clevenger, and Ava Romero. Alvord finished with 10 points on the night, while Clevenger poured in 9, and the Pups would move to 16-2 overall, following a 68-46 win.

“Overall I thought we were pretty good tonight,” said Strathman. “Anytime you score almost seventy, that’s pretty good offensively, but like I said, we shouldn’t give up thirty in a half either like we did in the second half.” 

Following the win, the Pups earned their 16th straight share of the AVCTL Div. III Title, “It is a good accomplishment, it really is, it goes back to 2008.” Strathman recalled the second-place finish to Newton, who was coming off of a state championship in 2007. 

“Sixteen in-a-row, it is a great accomplishment, but we have bigger goals in mind, to be honest.” He later explained, “We’re already putting some stuff in that we know we’re going to need for some specific opponents potentially.” 

He talked about preparing for sub-state, but also taking care of business in the regular season games ahead. “Fortunately we have the luxury of doing that with the kids, and the talent that we have that we get to work with,” he said they’re not taking anything for granted, and are not overlooking anybody.


The Bullpup Boys would find themselves trailing 6-0 early to the Thunderbirds, but an 8-2 run would tie the game, as Owen and Gabe Pyle continue their excellent shooting from long range. 

The game would be tied on five different occasions in the first half with both teams trading baskets. The Pups would hold to a 23-21 lead before Kreighton Kanitz would come up with a key steal, and quickly found Gabe Pyle, who finished through contact for an old-fashioned three-point play.

Shortly thereafter, Circle would collect the next five points, before Cory Muehler earned three points the hard way, giving the Pups a 29-26 lead at the half. “When we got a little bit of a lead, and they tried to pressure and trap, we did a great job of finding the open man, and scoring easy baskets and finishing plays at the rim,” said McPherson Head Coach Kurt Kinnamon

Out of the locker room, it was Kreighton Kanitz, knocking down back-to-back threes to give the Pups a 39-30 lead, Kinnamon mentioned Kanitz’s ability defensively following the game, as he was tasked with guarding Trevor Cowman, who was the leading scorer in the previous matchup between the two teams. 

McPherson would outscore the Thunderbirds 22-7 in the third quarter, to lead 51-33, and they were able to get everyone involved in the fourth quarter, to win 68-45.

Kinnamon said, “If we play that hard and we shoot it that well, or if we shoot it like we did on Tuesday night, and play that hard, this team can be..” He corrected himself, and added, “This team is special just because of what great kids they are.” He said, “I can be hard on them, and they take it to heart, and they fix whatever needs to be fixed.”

Coach Kinnamon concluded by saying, “I’m extremely happy with how they played, and it’s fun to coach against Jordan and he’s done a phenomenal job.” He added, “There’s a lot of Bullpup in Jordan, and I’m proud of that. He’s a great young man, and he’s done wonderful things down here.”

The Bullpup Boys move to 15-3 on the season, and the Pups will look forward to Senior Night, on Tuesday, when McPherson hosts Augusta at the Roundhouse.