The No. 1 state-ranked St. John Tigers will feel right at home Wednesday at Manhattan’s Bramlage Coliseum. The Tigers (22-1) will challenge state rival Pittsburg Colgan (17-5) in Wednesday’s first round of the Class 2A state basketball tournament.
St. John swept the 2014 and 2015 Class 2A championships at Bramlage Coliseum. The Tigers have won six basketball state titles in 1974, 1982, 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015. Colgan owns five state titles.
St. John’s leaders Cole Kinnamon and Jorge Calleros are two-time state veterans at Bramlage Coliseum and Chase Fisher, Alexis Valenzuela and Quincy Smith have past state tournament experience.
“Our guys like playing in Manhattan, and believe it’s a good shooter’s gym,” said St. John coach Clint Kinnamon. “We’ve got players with state experience and that makes a positive difference.”
Colgan has beaten the Tigers in three of four past meetings at the state tournament. Colgan’s style appears similar to what Kinnamon remembers from 2008, the last time the teams met.
“The same scouting report we used in 2008 could apply. They are a methodical offensive team that tries to break you down defensively,” he said. “They’ll apply defensive pressure, gamble and trap. We haven’t seen any team we’ve played perform that way. They will attack offensively when they force turnovers.”
Cole Kinnamon is a strong ballhandling point guard who would welcome seeing a pressure defense.
“If a team pressures us, we look to take advantage. We don’t see a lot of teams pressuring us,” he said.
The Tigers prefer a straight man-to-man defense that pressures the basketball. But Kinnamon will switch to trapping and half-court schemes.
“I like how our team competes and how hard they play,” he said. “If we’re competing and our awareness is good, the score will take care of itself. For the most part, we were pleased with how well we played defense in the substate tournament. But it’s one of the best state-tournament fields we’ve competed against. There isn’t a team that has much margin of error. We’ll have to play our best basketball to compete.”
Kinnamon owns a school record four state titles, but amazingly, he is the only St. John boys basketball coach who has lost a state tournament game. The Tigers are 22-3 all-time at the state tournament.
ST. JOHN BOYS, STATE HISTORY (22-3)
2015—St. John 83, Ellis 41; St. John 71, Washington County 53; CHAMPIONSHIP—St. John 49, Central Plains 44; Coach Clint Kinnamon
2014—St. John 69, Washington County 42; St. John 57, Olpe 47; CHAMPIONSHIP—St. John 71, Plainville 58; Coach Clint Kinnamon
2013—St. John 68, Burrton 44; St. John 61, Centralia 56; CHAMPIONSHIP—St. John 70, South Haven 50; Coach Clint Kinnamon
2008—St. John 58, Syracuse 35; St. John 56, Frankfort 52; CHAMPIONSHIP—Pittsburg Colgan 53, St. John 48
2007—St. John 52, Syracuse 28; St. John 44, Yates Center 26; CHAMPIONSHIP—St. John 51, Pittsburg Colgan 46; Coach Clint Kinnamon
2004—St. John 65, Leavenworth Immaculata 57; Pittsburg Colgan 69, St. John 65; THIRD PLACE—St. John 58, Syracuse 49
2002—Pittsburg Colgan 61, St. John 47
1982—St. John 74, Sedan 44; St. John 54, Stanton County 53; CHAMPIONSHIP—St. John 57, Canton-Galva 48; Coach Loren Wiens
1974—St. John 60, Hillsboro 56; St. John 56, Basehor 47; CHAMPIONSHIP—St. John 48, Frankfort 41; Coach Ivan Williams
ST. JOHN ROSTER
1—Braden Witt, 6-2, jr.
2—Eddy Calleros, 6-0, so.
3—Quincy Smith, 6-0, jr.
10—Cole Kinnamon, 6-0, sr.
12—Cashe McVey, 5-9, so.
14—Alexis Valenzuela, 6-3, sr.
15—Mason Osborne, 6-0, so.
22—Triston Long, 6-5, sr.
24—Jorge Calleros, 6-1, sr.
33—Chase Fisher, 6-4, jr.
34—Keven Neri-Leon, 5-8, jr.
44—Tanner Halling, 6-6, fr.