Senior Zach Schnieder goes up against a SM West player.  Photo by Maddie SchoemannThe Lancer boys basketball team will be heading to McPherson, Kan. to the annual McPherson Invitational. The team will be looking to improve on last year’s performance, where they took third place, losing to McPherson in the semifinals.

The tournament bracket is similar to last year. The returning teams include, the host McPherson (7-1), the returning champions Blue Valley West (3-3), Lawrence Free State (2-5) and the Lancers (7-0). The other four teams are Wichita Heights (4-3), Hutchison (3-5), Manhattan (4-3) and Maize (2-6).

Along with the season’s high expectations, the tournament’s are also very high. The Lancers are the number one seed, and the expectations are to win it. Coach Shawn Hair is confident in the team’s chances, because of their previous experience in the ARC Madness tournament earlier this season.

“We played three games in a row in [ARC Madness],” Hair said. “We wanted to play in tournament where we had to play back-to-back-to-back, to get consecutive good games in a row.”

Though, there are similarities in the two, Hair is adamant that the McPherson Invitational will be very different from the ARC Madness tournament.

“It’s different obviously because you are on the road,” Hair said. “We’re staying in a hotel, we’ve got some distractions, hopefully our kids can lock in and handle some of those distractions.”

Hair believes the road environment of the tournament will also help the team in the long run towards the state tournament.

“I think more than anything, when you have to go to a different place other than your home floor or a familiar Shawnee Mission school, you have to get together as a group,” Hair said. “It’s really the group mentality of, ‘we’re all in this together and we’ll pull together this weekend,’ and the team mentality of being to together.”Lucas Jones shoots a layup.  Photo by Maddie Schoemann

The Lancers will face Maize in their opening game on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 4:45 p.m. in McPherson. If you cannot make the trip, there will be a live broadcast here on smeharbinger.net.