Bullpup boys with solid core to build upon

William Snesrud
McPherson Sentinel
McPherson's Sam Becker (24) goes up for the shot past the defense of Buhler's Max Alexander (1) and Jack Voth (34). The Bullpups qualified for the state tournament before ending the 2020-21 season.

MCPHERSON – Fresh off a run at the Class 4A state championship despite a year of unexpected losses and offensive woes, McPherson boys basketball coach Kurt Kinnamon has an optimistic early look toward the 2021-22 season.

We have invited area coaches to take a quick overview of the 2020-21 basketball season for their teams and today we visit with McPherson Bullpup Head Coach Kurt Kinnamon.

HOW DID YOUR TEAM FINISH THE SEASON OVERALL?

One of the highlights for the 2020-21 season had less to do with the team itself and more to do with a humble Coach Kinnamon as he reached the 500-win plateau in his 26th season as head coach. The Bullpups finished the season 13-11 overall which gives Kinnamon 511 career wins against just 104 losses as the head coach in McPherson.

Coach Kinnamon also guided the Bullpups to their 18th appearance in the state tournament with him at the helm.

McPherson Bullpup Head Coach Kurt Kinnamon.reached the 500-win plateau in his 26th season as head coach. The Bullpups finished the season 13-11 overall which gives Kinnamon 511 career wins against just 104 losses as the head coach in McPherson.

Enough about the coach, let us talk about the team.

For the 2020-21 season the Bullpups finished 13-11 overall and 8-2 in AVCTL (Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League) games which put them in first place in the league.

Coming into the sub-state contests the Bullpups were just 10-11 but took the sub-state championship with big wins over both Pratt and Buhler, beating the Crusaders for the third time this season, to qualify for the Class 4A state tournament where they beat Abilene in round one before falling to eventual state champion Bishop Miege in the semifinals.

WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE 2020-21 SEASON?

Coach Kinnamon was short and to the point in answering this question when he explained, “The highlight was winning the sub-state championship game and coming through at the end of the season by playing our best basketball.”

WHAT PLAYERS AND PRODUCTION WILL THE TEAM LOSE?

The Bullpups will graduate three seniors, all of which have given strong contributions to the program during their career.

Ø Jayton Alexander averaged 9.3 points per game and was the heart and soul of the team by showing tremendous leadership throughout the season. Jayton was named second-team All-AVCTL.

Ø Adam Elliott was an honorable mention All-AVCTL this season and provided good, solid perimeter shooting and hit many big baskets throughout the season.

Ø Eli Pyle was also named honorable mention All-AVCTL this season and played some of his best basketball during our stretch run at the end of the season and into the state semi-finals. Many teams had to change their defense and were unable to help cover other Bullpups due to Eli’s ability to shoot.

TAKE AN EARLY LOOK INTO THE 2021-22 SEASON AND TELL US WHAT YOU SEE?

We will be returning three players, all of whom were juniors this season, and are referred to as the returning starters to build the team around next season.

Ø Seth Madron was a first-team ALL-AVCTL this season and is by far one of the most explosive players to ever play for the Bullpups.

Ø Jayden Dukes proved to be a solid, lockdown defender who also brought an element of toughness to the court.

Ø Darriene Gibbs was one player who is still growing with his raw, physical talent. With a summer of hard work, Darriene should become an exceptionally good offensive threat.

Beyond those three, Coach Kinnamon referenced four underclassmen who saw significant minutes during the season and in the post-season and these were junior Trey Buckbee plus sophomores Hunter Alvord, Mason Miller, and Sam Becker.

Coach Kinnamon also pointed out that the Bullpup junior varsity team only lost three games and an incredibly talented freshman group lost just once this season.

According to Kinnamon, “I look forward to seeing which of these players continue to develop and are able to help us on the varsity level next season.”

DO ANY TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE OR STATE LOOK TO BE THE CREAM OF THE CROP FOR NEXT SEASON?

Showing the mentality of many in Class 4A, Coach Kinnamon summed up this question with one to the point answer, saying, “Bishop Miege will be the team to beat again depending on whether their two all-state juniors decide to go to prep school or not. Then it will be a matter of how they reload.”

In the AVCTL Division, one as to notice that Augusta also made the Class 4A semi-finals while Buhler is always a tough game for the Bullpups and both El Dorado and Winfield have shown new life and talent the past couple of seasons.

OUR FINAL REFLECTIONS:

While the Bullpups did not seem to be running on the same level as what the locals were used to, Coach Kinnamon had the team humming at the end of the season and despite a losing record at the end of the regular season – they still made a mad dash run toward the state championship until they ran into to constant powerhouse Bishop Miege.

Truly this 2020-21 season could be one of Kinnamon’s finest coaching jobs considering they dealt with scheduling hiccups due to the coronavirus pandemic and the offense seemed to go into a mid-season drought which caused a few losses that normally would have been wins.

As for the 2021-22 season, with the returning players such as Madron, Gibbs, Dukes, Buckbee, Miller, Becker, and Alvord, plus an extraordinarily strong group of junior varsity and freshman players – the Bullpups look to be ready to bounce back next season and give the locals, the league, and the state another round of true Bullpup basketball.