Alexanders once again leading McPherson Bullpups
The Alexander family is legendary in McPherson basketball lore and the next generation of Alexanders is continuing that tradition
McPherson High School sophomore starting point guard Max Alexander doesn't flinch in big moments.
It was his go-ahead 3-pointer on Dec. 11 at Buhler with 20 seconds left that gave the Bullpups a 54-51 win to avoid an extremely uncharacteristic 0-4 start to the season.
Alexander also hit clutch free throws in the semifinals of the McPherson Invitational against Shawnee Heights to help the Bullpups win a 51-50 thriller on Jan. 18 in the Roundhouse.
The first-year starter is enjoying and taking advantage of every moment.
"The whole crowd erupted," Alexander said about his game-winning shot against Buhler. "I had never felt so good before. I never thought I'd ever be put in that situation this early in my career, and it was amazing."
Max Alexander is a big reason why the Bullpups are on a hot streak, but he's just the latest Alexander to make a name for himself in McPherson.
His older cousin Jake, the team's current leading scorer, was the third member of McPherson's "Big Three" last season that led the Bullpups to a 22-2 record and state runner-up finish in Class 4A-I. Jayse Alexander, an All-State linebacker in football and cousin to Jake, Mason, and Max, was also a key member of last year’s team.
In fact, it was Jake who had the game-winning assist to Max against Buhler.
"Jake drove baseline and kicked it out to me for a 3, and I made it," Max said. "Knowing the pass came from Jake, that meant a lot. It showed that he had trust in me to make the shot, because he easily could have not passed it and shot it himself."
This season, Jake is the focal point of the McPherson High offense and it shows. The 6-foot-5 wing scored a career-high 37 points on Jan. 4 in a win against Circle.
The dynamic senior says his favorite memory in high school was the overall experience, being able to play basketball with his cousins and his best friends.
"It's been a blast playing with all my cousins. We've created a lot of great memories and it's been a fun ride," Jake said. "Between playing Fortnite after games and going to the gym together, we have a lot of great times."
But it's also Max, who leads the team in assists per game, who has the Bullpups playing at another level.
According to Max, his sophomore season has come as somewhat of a surprise.
"Coming into this year, I didn't really think I would be a main factor to the team," Max said. "I thought I'd come off the bench and kind of help out a little bit. But after the first few games went by, I really started to realize how much my presence mattered to this team. This season has been going a lot better than I first thought it would."
Of course, Max is simply filling in for his older brother Mason, who was the starting point guard on McPherson's last two state runner-ups in 2017 and 2018.
After a brief stint at Wichita Sunrise Academy, Mason transferred to McPherson High for his junior and senior seasons. With Mason at the helm, the Bullpups went a combined 42-6 and made back-to-back state championship final appearances.
Mason says transferring to McPherson High was a basketball decision.
"My junior and senior year of basketball will be something I won't forget thanks to my teammates and the fans of McPherson High," Mason said. "Carrying on the tradition, the unbelievable winning culture, and of course playing with my family and all my friends."
As a freshman at William Jewell College, Mason has been recently promoted to starting point guard of the Cardinals. Mason has started eight games thus far, shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc and 93 percent from the free throw line.
Mason is pleased with how his game is translating to the college game, which comes as no surprise to McPherson High fans.
"I look forward to getting better each day, and going to war with all of my teammates," Mason said.
In the near future, Jake will also make the leap to the college ranks. Finding the right fit on and off the court will be the keys for the talented senior.
"As of right now I am undecided as to where I want to go," Jake said. "I'm in contact with schools, many of which would be of interest, but I'm not making any decisions until after the season."
If and when Jake does commit to a college program, he will be following in the footsteps of not only Mason, but his father and two uncles.
Jake’s father Chad played over 100 games at Oklahoma State from 1994-1998. His uncle Todd Alexander — the father of Mason and Max — spent a year at KU under Roy Williams ('89-'90) then played three years at Washburn.
Josh Alexander — the father of Jayse and McPherson High sophomore Jayton — will go down as not only a McPherson High great, but a McPherson College great as well. Josh graduated McPherson High as the program’s all-time leading scorer in 1995, and holds the McPherson College record for points in a season with 659.
According to Jake, who started playing basketball in second grade, his father and uncles are major reasons why he has developed into a standout basketball player.
“Basketball was introduced to my cousins and me at a very early age,” Jake said. “We were taught to take it seriously if we wanted to be good. Fortunately, we liked it and it developed into our passion.”
The Bullpups are currently 9-4 on the season and have won nine of their last 10 games. Led by Jake and Max Alexander, McPherson is looking to advance to the state championship for the sixth straight season.
Gallagher Martin is a sportswriter for the McPherson Sentinel.