MANHATTAN – St. John-Hudson’s 6-foot-8 Dean Wade drew two quick fouls and the Plainville Cardinals were raining 3-pointers for a 24-17 lead.
“I was nervous as I could be,” said St. John coach Clint Kinnamon.
Kinnamon rolled the dice and re-entered Wade at the 4:20 mark of the second period. Wade made four free throws and Zuriel Reyes knocked down his first 3-pointer for a 24-24 tie.
Order was restored when Reyes made his next 3-pointer and Jesus Alvarez and Reyes scored baskets for St. John’s 31-28 halftime lead.
The Tigers roared to their second consecutive state basketball title with a hard-fought 71-58 Class 2A state championship victory over Plainville Saturday night. It was the Tigers’ fifth boys basketball title.
“It always feels good to win a state championship,” Kinnamon said. “I’m really proud of our kids. We had two guys, Zuriel Reyes, coming off a bad ankle, and Dean Wade hurt his back last night and was not 100 percent.”
Reyes ignited the Tigers’ 40-point second half with four more 3-pointers and 15-second half points for a 27-point night. Coach Kinnamon knew Reyes had a chance to do something special when he made 12 straight shots in shootaround.
“I knew I had to step up and answer,” Reyes said. “I felt confident. But I always approach it like it’s just my next shot. I give all the credit to my teammates for finding me.”
Plainville coach Chris Drees said Reyes’ 3-point shooting was the difference. The Cardinals mixed their defenses at times and signals got crossed a few times between man-to-man and matchup zone.
“When you’re trying to match up and lose their best shooter, you’re going to have problems,” Drees said. “We could not find him. We thought we did a pretty good on Wade for three quarters. I liked the way we battled tonight. It got away from us that fourth quarter.”
Reyes and Wade combined for 28 second-half points as Plainville didn’t have a defensive answer to either player. Wade finished with 19 points, four blocks and a slam dunk with 4:20 left.
Wade, being recruited by Kansas State, Wichita State, Colorado and Northwestern, said he tweaked his back Friday night.
“I was full of energy because I sat out so much time,” Wade said. “I was able to play aggressive when I came back. Winning state a second time is maybe even better the second time.”
The third quarter was a shootout with Reyes and Wade getting matched by Logan Frederking’s five 3-pointers and 19 points. The Cardinals knocked down 10 of 25 3-pointers to hang tough. Kolt Newell nailed a trio of 3-pointers and Frederking knocked down a pair in the third quarter to keep Plainville within 55-50.
“Give Frederiking all the credit because he made some amazing shots,” Kinnamon said. “At times, we didn’t guard a soul.”
The Tigers knocked down nine free throws in the final period and Wade scored four points and Reyes a 3-pointer. Frederking hit Plainville’s only field goal in the fourth quarter. The Tigers finished with seven blocked shots and outscored the Cardinals 21-12 from the free throw line.
The Tigers played some aggressive man-to-man to stifle the Cardinals’ perimeter game. Kade Kinnamon had three steals.
“We did a much better job defensively in the fourth quarter,” Kinnamon said. “Defense was the topic of my conversation.”
Clint Kinnamon was a freshman when St. John captured its 1982 state title. The Tigers captured the Class 1A-Division I state championship last year at Emporia. But the Tigers’ other three basketball championships in 1974, 1982 and 2007, came in Class 2A. The Tigers were Class 2A state runner-up in 2008.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Class 2A State Tournament
ST. JOHN-HUDSON 71, PLAINVILLE 58
Logan Frederking 7-12 0-1 19; Hadley Gillum 4-12 4-5 14; Kolt Newell 4-6 0-0 11; Brent Gehring 1-5 4-7 6; Chase Meitler 1-5 0-0 2; Hayden Friend 0-6 4-4 4; Quinn Dewey 1-3 0-0 2; Totals 18-49 12-17 58.
ST. JOHN (26-0)
Zuriel Reyes 10-15 1-2 27; Dean Wade 5-8 8-9 19; Kade Kinnamon 1-4 3-4 5; Cole Kinnamon 2-8 3-6 8; Jesus Alvarez 2-2 2-2 6; Gerardo Calleros 0-0 0-0 0; Alexis Valenzeula 0-0 0-0 0; Nathan Ward 0-0 0-0 0; Triston Long 0-0 0-0 0; Jorge Calleros 0-3 2-2 2; Trey Nelson 0-1 0-0 0; Jacob Milton 1-4 2-3 4; Totals 21-45 21-28 71.
Plainville 20 8 22 8 – 58
St. John 17 14 24 16 – 71
Three-point goals—Plainville 10-25 (Frederking 5-8, Gillum 2-4, Newell 3-5, Friend 0-4), SJ 8-16 (Reyes 6-9, Wade 1-2, C. Kinnamon 1-3, K. Kinnamon 0-1, Milton 0-1). Rebounds—Plainville 30 (Gillum 8), SJ 38 (Wade 8, J. Calleros 8). Assists—Plainville 7 (Gillum 3), SJ 2 (C. Kinnamon 1, Wade 1). Steals—Plainville 4 (Frederking 2, Gehring 2); SJ 6 (K. Kinnamon 3). Blocks—Plainville 5 (Gillum 4), SJ 7 (Wade 4). Turnovers—Plainville 13, SJ 9. Fouls—Plainville 21, SJ 16. Fouled out—Gillum, Gehring.