BY TAYLOR ELDRIDGE (@teldridge24)
No other tournament in the state of Kansas can match the tradition held in the Roundhouse during the middle of every January at the McPherson Invitational. McPherson’s own program, with its 11 state championships, has a great deal to do with that, but the tournament has a consistently deep and talented field. The 49th annual McPherson Invitational is no different, as two elite teams are in the mix with undefeated Shawnee Mission East and the 8-1 McPherson Bullpups. Those two are head-and-shoulders above the rest, but Wichita Heights, Manhattan and Blue Valley West (the 2012 champs) enter with winning records and you could make the case that Lawrence Free State is the best 2-6 team in the state.
The first day of the tournament promises to bring plenty of quality basketball, which should begin with the first game pitting Manhattan against BV West at 3 p.m. Another game to keep your eye on will be the 6:30 p.m. match-up of Hutchinson and Wichita Heights, which is a re-match of a thriller on Jan. 4 that ended with Heights winning 45-43 on a late jumper. And the host Bullpups have to be sweating their first-round game, which isn’t much of a reward for being the 2nd seed, against Free State. As far as predictions go, here’s what I think the final day games will be: SM East vs. McPherson for the title; BV West vs. Heights for 3rd; Manhattan vs. Free State for 5th; Maize vs. Hutchinson for 7th.
There’s no doubt that this will be another great rendition of the McPherson Invitational and I’ll be bringing you complete coverage straight from the Roundhouse for the next three days. I’ll be posting frequent live updates of every game on my Twitter feed, which you can find at @teldridge24. I’ll save my longer thoughts before, during and after the games for this blog, so be sure to keep checking in for what I hope to bring you some quality tid-bits. And if you want to study up or are curious on any of the 8 teams in the field, please click the jump where you can view a complete schedule breakdown of every team.