McPHERSON, Kan.—Watch out, 4A, here comes McPherson.
The 4A top-ranked McPherson boys were able to pull away late against the 6A No. 4 Shawnee Mission East Lancers 53-40. It was scrappy and sloppy, but for the most part, it was sensational.
McPherson coach Kurt Kinnamon did not look happy for the majority of the McPherson tournament championship game, but he could not have been any more pleased after.
“This group of young men epitomize what a team is about,” said Kinnamon. “They care about one another, they pick one another up, they fight through the tough times when I’m not being so nice. They’re just a fantastic group of young men who gave a supreme effort.”
A supreme effort is what it was going to take to beat the Lancers, a team that will likely contend for the 6A state title. McPherson started strong with a 9-2 run through the first four and a half minutes of the game, but East wasn’t fazed. It responded with a 10-2 run to end the first quarter with a 12-11 lead.
The Bullpups tried eight three-point shots in the first quarter, but only one fell. They didn’t try again until the second half.
Instead, McPherson went to the paint and tried for more mid-range jumpers to down the Lancers. But with East’s big men, it was tough for McPherson’s Keaton Sorenson to gain any traction underneath, but he kept with it and eventually got East’s Zach Schneider to foul out.
Schneider finished with just five points and nine rebounds, to Sorenson’s 12 points and 10 rebounds. Not a single East player scored, rebounded or assisted in the double digits.
“On tape, Schneider had a lot of driving baskets,” said Kinnamon. “It didn’t seem like he got much going to the basket at all (tonight).”
The McPherson defense kept the team in the game on several different occasions. Both Sorenson and Marcus Houghton forced many of the East 13 turnovers. Schneider finished with four turnovers to lead all players in the category nobody wants to lead.
McPherson held the Lancers to just 33 percent from the field. East shot 43 times, and came away with 40 points.
If someone would have told Kinnamon his team would out-rebound East 33-30, he would have said, “we’ll win the game.”
That’s exactly what happened, including the 10 second-chance points it got off the 11 offensive rebounds.
Kyler Kinnamon led all players with 16 points, but made just two shots from the field. The McPherson sophomore hit 12 of his 13 free throws, and it proved to be the difference.
“Kyler is hard to contain, he’s hard to chase,” said Kinnamon. “We did a good job of executing down the stretch and stretching the lead to make it look more than it actually was.”
He was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.