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Pups Fall to Lawrence Free State 62-56, St. James Academy Claims 59th Annual MIT


By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio


McPHERSON, Kan. – The Bullpup Boys suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season, after falling to Lawrence Free State on Saturday, 62-56, in the consolation game of the 59th Annual McPherson Invitational Basketball Tournament.

Free State came into the tournament as arguably the most athletic teams, and entered as a top 10 team in Class 6A. The Firebirds were able to open the game scoring the first nine points, and the Pups found themselves struggling at the start of their second straight came, scoring their first two points almost halfway through the first quarter.

The Pups would eventually settle in, as Kreighton Kanitz would knock down a three, followed by back-to-back threes from Gabe Pyle, on the next possession, the lefty, Gavin Wedel made two free throws, to give the Pups the lead momentarily, but it was quickly taken back by Free State, as they would take a 15-12 lead after a quarter.

“Both of those teams the last two nights would be teams you would face in maybe a state final,” said Head Coach Kurt Kinnamon, following the fourth place finish. He talked about other tournaments that his team could’ve played in, and maybe gotten a better result, but he said. “I’m not into moral victories. Bottom line is that we didn’t get it done two nights in a row, and that’s not how we’re used to operating.” 

The Firebirds knocked down back-to-back threes to begin the second quarter, before a technical foul on a Free State player would send Owen Pyle to the line, where he knocked down four free throws. It was a back-and-forth game going into the locker room, but it was the Bullpups, finding themselves working much harder for baskets than their opposition. On one end, Cory Muehler would finish over the outstretched arms of the 6’9 Firebird big-man, but it seemed almost immediately, Free State would answer getting it into their center Will Mlynek, who would finish on the other end, as the game would go into halftime tied at 31-31.

In the third quarter, Mason Miller would find himself exchanging blows with the 6’9 Mlynek, although the 5 inch advantage favored the Firebirds, Miller did not back down, scoring 6 points in the corner before finishing with a team-high 14 points, as the Pups would go into the final period trailing 45-42. Following a pair of free throws from Miller, the Firebirds would collect back-to-back buckets to take a 51-44 lead before Cory Muehler would knock down a corner three. Unfortunately, Free State would immediately answer, finishing through contact, and converting for the and-one.

The Pups would get back within five with under a minute to go, but a late turnover on an inbound, would lead to a Firebird layup, as McPherson couldn’t get over the hump of a two possession game, falling to Lawrence Free State 62-56.

Kinnamon mentioned the learning experience that took place throughout the tournament, but said, “It doesn’t get any easier.” Looking ahead at the schedule, the Pups will return to action on Tuesday, when they travel to Andale. They will then have over a week off, before another tough road contest against Wichita Collegiate, who’s a top five team in Class 3A, before returning back to the Roundhouse to take on Hays before returning to league-action to finish the season. Kinnamon concluded by saying, “We’re going to have a five-game gauntlet, and it’s time to get in the win column hopefully on Tuesday night.”

Notable Stats:
M. Miller 14 pts, 2 reb,
C. Muehler 10 pts, 2 stl
K. Thompson 10 pts, 7 ast, 2 stl
G. Pyle 9 pts, 6 reb
K. Kanitz 7 pts, 3 reb
O. Pyle 4 pts, 3 reb
G. Wedel 2 pts, 2 reb
H. Boese 1 reb


In the Championship of the 59th Annual MIT, St. James Academy would defeat Manhattan 61-39.

5th Place Game – Shawnee Mission East def. Olathe East 60-52

7th Place Game – Blue Valley West 73-54

59th Annual MIT All Tournament Team

The 59th Annual McPherson Invitational All-Tournament Team includes 10 players including MVP. Those players include:

Eli Lovich – Blue Valley West

Mason Miller – McPhesron

Zeek Brown – Lawrence Free State

Colllins Elumogo – Manhattan

Jailen Thompson – Lawrence Free State

Jack WIlson – Manhattan

Quintin Robertson – Blue Valley West

Dillion Mong – Shawnee Mission East

Gabe Sydzyik – St. James Academy

(MVP) Brian Hawthorne – St. James Academy