ST. JOHN — It’s not easy keeping up with the No. 1-ranked basketball team in Class 1A Division-I.
That was the task set for Central Plains High School Oilers when they challenged St. John-Hudson on Friday night in the second round of the St. John Lions Club Mid-Winter Classic.
The Tigers pulled ahead early with some 3-pointers and coasted to a 55-40 win, improving to 12-0 on the season.
“Early, they were in that 2-3 and that’s like playing horse,” St. John head coach Clint Kinnamon said. “It was partly my fault the last time playing Central Plains, because I was so adamant that we get it inside because we such an advantage inside. I was telling them not to shoot it from the perimeter as much, and they got gun-shy.
“Tonight, I said, ‘Inside or outside, I don’t give a rip. You just make baskets.’ I thought we had a nice rhythm, a nice flow early.”
St. John point guard Kade Kinnamon, who is one of four players on the team that averages in double figures, left the game with an injury to his left wrist.
“I think it affected us when Kade went down,” Clint Kinnamon said of his son. “I think the kids were a little shell-shocked. I think it affected their play the rest of the game.
“They’re taking a look at it right now. It’s his left wrist. It could be dislocated. It could be broken. It could be dislocated and broken. We just don’t know, but it’s definitely deformed and not looking quite right.”
St. John unloaded from 3-point range in the first quarter, jumping ahead 18-8 after the first eight minutes.
“They did make a lot of perimeter shots that got us down early, but we knew how talented they were and how they shoot the ball from outside,” Central Plains head coach Brett Rolfs said. “We already knew that about them. I don’t think we were making a good enough effort to get out and put hands in people’s faces on the perimeter, and they made us pay for it early.”
Zuriel Reyes led the Tigers, making 4 of 9 3-pointers on his way to a team-leading 20 points.
The Oilers tried to keep pace with St. John, but only outscored them in the final quarter, 12-10.
“We got out hustled and outworked,” Rolfs said. “We got down, and got in a hole. We fought real hard after that first quarter. We got out of that zone and into man halfway through the first quarter, and the rest of the game, especially the second half, I think we did play better defensively.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get anything going.”
Central Plains was led by Michael Ryan, who finished with 15 points.
Coach Kinnamon said that after a game like that, turnovers were a concern. The Tigers had 14 in the win.
“We did some good things at times,” Clint Kinnamon said. “At times, I think we had too many unforced turnovers. Fourteen is way too many, because it wasn’t anything that they were doing to cause those.”
Dean Wade finished with 16 points for St. John, and Spencer Nusser almost had a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing a team-leading nine rebounds.
“I thought Spencer played strong,” Clint Kinnamon said, “and Dean finished some strong plays with some contact, too. That was good to see.”
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
St. John Lions Club Mid-Winter Classic
At St. John
St. John 55, Central Plains 40
CENTRAL PLAINS (7-6)
Chris Woolf 1-2 0-0 2, Layne Bieberle 3-12 0-2 6, Konnor Hickel 2-4 0-0 5, Joe Barton 2-2 1-2 5, Michael Ryan 6-9 3-7 15, Braeden Crites 1-7 0-0 2, Evan Liebl 2-4 1-1 5. Totals 17-40 5-12 40.
ST. JOHN (12-0)
Kade Kinnamon 1-4 0-0 2, Omar Ramirez 2-4 0-0 5, Francisco Calleros 0-1 0-0 0, Spencer Nusser 4-10 3-3 12, Ethan Long 0-2 0-0 0, Dean Wade 6-9 3-3 16, Zuriel Reyes 7-12 2-2 20. Totals 20-42 8-8 55.
Central Plains 8 8 12 12 — 40
St. John 18 11 16 10 — 55
Three-point goals — St. John 7-22 (Reyes 4-9, Nusser 1-4, Ramirez 1-3, Wade 1-1, Kinnamon 0-3, Calleros 0-1, Long 0-1); Central Plains 1-7 (Hickel 1-3, Bieberle 0-3, Crites 0-1). Total fouls — St. John 11, Central Plains 9. Fouled out — None.