LARNED – Whenever Larned’s boys meet St. John on the basketball court, Dean Wade is the primary topic of conversation.
St. John’s 6-foot-9 Dean Wade, a Kansas State signee, dominated last year’s meetings — all St. John wins, 71-54, 46-37 and 68-41.
Larned coach Don Zimmerman said St. John is the ultimate challenge in Saturday’s championship of the Gene Keady Classic.
The Indians’ upset strategy will be based on balanced offense and aggressive defense, but Wade is the game’s dominant player.
“They are a great team and Dean Wade is the best basketball player in the state,” Zimmerman said. “The kids have been talking about that opportunity since practice started. We hope we see a great crowd that will see a great basketball game Saturday.”
Larned cruised into the final with a 59-37 victory over Ellinwood Friday.
Point guard Isiah Perez flawlessly directed Larned’s offense and Trevor Meyer and Derek Delgado muscled inside for 26 points in the Indians’ victory over Ellinwood
The Indians knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers by Tanner Galliart, Evan Skelton and Jordan Zimmerman for a 47-26 lead. Larned outscored the Eagles 20-8 in the third period.
Perez scored 11 points and disrupted Ellinwood’s offense with timely steals. Delgado scored 16 points and Meyer added 10 points.
The Indians dominated the boards 41-16 and assisted on 17 baskets on 28 field goals. The Indians shut out Eagle scorer Marc Waite the first half.
“We defended the basketball very well and there were points where we played fairly well,” said Larned coach Don Zimmerman. “We took guarding (Waite) as a personal defensive challenge.”
Larned turned a 19-16 lead to 27-20 at halftime. Perez scored an inside basket and a 3-point play for a 27-18 lead.
The Eagles nailed four 3-pointers, two by Tyson Martinez and one apiece by Kaleb Schartz and Theron Sjogren.
Schartz led the Eagles with 13 points. Martinez added eight points.
St. John 53, Spearville 32
Top-ranked St. John downed Spearville 53-32 in the Gene Keady Classic semifinals.
St. John’s Dean Wade dominated with 25 points, a dozen rebounds and several blocked and altered shots. Point guard Cole Kinnamon controlled tempo with a solid floor game and scored 14 points.
The Tigers’ tandem of Chase Fisher and Alexis Valenzuela did an effective job slowing down Spearville standout Nathan Stein, who had to work for his 10 points.
“That’s a really good Spearville team we beat tonight. Defensively, we played pretty good basketball,” said St. John coach Clint Kinnamon. “Chase Fisher and Alexis Valenzuela did a nice job making it tough and denying Nathan Stein. Our kids were excited to play a really good basketball team tonight.”
The Tigers also effectively stopped the offensive attack by Spearville point guard Luke Heskamp, who scored nine points. The Tigers forced turnovers with their quickness and limited second-chance points with their rebounding.
“The other thing we did well was stop the penetration of their point guard Luke Heskamp,” Kinnamon said. “They like to attack and pitch back for shots.”
“We’re happy to make the championship game and play another high quality team,” Kinnamon said.
Spearville coach Daryl Stegman said the Tigers were quick defensively.
“St. John’s team defense was really good. It’s really hard to simulate that defensive intensity in practice,” Stegman said. “They exposed our weaknesses and showed us what we need to work on.”
The put the game away with a 14-2 run for a 40-18 lead. Wade scored on three second-chance baskets, highlighted by a dunk and Kinnamon hit a pair of 3-pointers.