ST JOHN — For the St. John-Hudson High School boys’ basketball team, a deep postseason run is an expectation.
“It was expected,” St. John senior Spencer Nusser said. “We set our goal at the beginning of the year as making it to state. Winning it is our ultimate goal.”
The Tigers (21-1), who are ranked No. 1 in Class 1A Division-I in the final Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll and are the No. 1 seed in the state tournament, will take their next step tonight at 6:30 at White Auditorium in Emporia.
They face Burrton (10-13).
“They’ve got one very nice guard,” Clint Kinnamon said. “He’s a juco recruit. They don’t have a tremendous amount of size. We’ll have the advantage inside. We’ll have to get the ball inside.”
In spite of the expectations, Clint Kinnamon said that his team needs to take it one game at a time.
“It doesn’t matter,” Clint Kinnamon said, “because you got to win that first-round game. You got to win the second game. Then you got to win the big one, so one at a time. It’s one possession at a time.”
St. John has several offensive weapons.
The Tigers have three players averaging in double figures — Nusser, Zuriel Reyes and Dean Wade.
“It should be four,” Clint Kinnamon said, alluding to his son, Kade Kinnamon, who was averaging in double figures before he injured his wrist earlier this season. “It sure helps. We’ve had nights where one of them has three, four, five points, and the others might pick it up to 22 or somewhere around there.
“You’ve got to score the basketball. It doesn’t matter how well you guard. You have to score, so it is nice to have several who can do that.”
Nusser, a 6-foot-1 senior, and Wade, a 6-8 sophomore, control the paint for St. John. They both average 16 points per game.
Wade averages eight rebounds per game, and Nusser averages seven.
That’s not to say they can’t shoot the ball from long range.
Wade is a 38 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and Nusser is right behind him at 37 percent.
While they’re solid from distance, 5-10 junior Reyes is St. John’s main shooting threat.
Reyes is a team-best 39 percent from 3-point range, and a 78 percent free-throw shooter.
Kade Kinnamon, St. John’s 6-0 junior point guard, has returned for the Tigers’ last two games after he suffered a wrist injury during a semifinal game of the St. John Lions Club Winter Classic on Jan. 18.
His first game back was St. John’s 72-37 sub-state semifinal win over La Crosse.
“It really helps us out,” Kade Kinnamon said of having him back. “Everybody can play back in position now, where I can be point and they can do their thing in their spots.
“I was practicing with the cast, so I was in the loop and everything.”
The Tigers’ one loss this season was a 66-54 setback on the road against Wichita-Word of Life.
“We didn’t expect to lose,” Nusser said. “We played scared against them. We’ve been together. We’ve played together a lot longer. We play well together.”