By Sports Editor Peter Holland Jr
DERBY— Just when the McPherson High School boys basketball team had the big lead and the edge, Derby kept finding its way back with its athleticism and physicality. Eventually, the Panthers made a late push and outlasted the Bullpups with a 57-53 win on Friday. The Bullpups drop to 1-2 on the season.
It was a poor shooting night for McPherson, especially down the stretch when they only made one field goal in the fourth quarter while the Panthers went on a 9-3 run. It also didn’t help that the Bullpups were 15 for 36 on the free-throw line. Add a mixture of careless turnovers, you have the recipe for disaster. Somehow, the Bullpups were still trailing as close as one point behind Derby.
“It’s like I told them in the locker room, there’s a specific plan for everything that we do,” Bullpups Head Coach Kurt Kinnamon said after the game. “When we deviate from that and things go wrong, we can’t act shocked. And that’s kind of how we acted.”
The Bullpups haven’t made any of their shots in the first six minutes in the first quarter. While Derby started out the quarter on a 5-1 run. McPherson’s three of its four points came from making one of their two free throws. Other than that, the Bullpups made two of their nine shots.
The Bullpups started to get in rhythm the second quarter when they went on a 5-0 run to capture their first lead of the night. After knocking back-to-back three-pointers, Derby had the upper hand going into the locker room as they led 26-25.
The Bullpups had a strong third quarter when they went on an 11-0 run. Because of that, the Bullpups had their highest had comfortable 35-26 lead with 4:43 left. Not too comfortable, of course, as Derby not only ended the run but went on an 8-0 run of its own and only trailed 40-37 at the end of the third quarter.
Derby made its final push by scoring all 20 points in the fourth quarter. Down 53-52, Jacob Karsak knocked down a three on the top of the key with 35 seconds left. Amari Thomas closed the deal by making all of his free throws with 16 seconds left.
“They are a very physical and athletic team and they run those bodies at you and we’re not very deep,” Kinnamon said. “They were able to get in the paint late and convert some shots.”
Cody Stufflebean and Seth Madron tied for 18 points, being the only two to reach double figures, while Derby’s Tre Washington led the game with 20.
The Bullpups will be back in their homecourt for their league opener as they take on Buhler High School on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.