St. John-Hudson boys win 1A sub-state with tough defense and key shots made on offense.

The St. John-Hudson Tigers are headed to state this week after defeating the Attica Bulldogs 36-34 in a thriller Saturday to win the sub-state boys high school basketball championship at Pratt Community College. 

The Tigers (21-4) open Class 1A state tournament Thursday afternoon against Hanover (24-1) in a 4:45 p.m. tip-off at Dodge City’s United Wireless Arena.

Earlier, the Tigers claimed a semifinal victory over the Minneola Cougars, 58-25.

“We played really good defense in both sub-state games,” said St. John coach Clint Kinnamon. “Offensively we played loose and free in the semis and pretty tight in the final. I believe that caused us to shoot a very poor free throw percentage. Fortunately, our defense was able to carry us in the final against Attica.”

Kinnamon praised his former player, Danton Hilton, now the coach at Attica.

“Danton Hilton does a great job with his guys,” Kinnamon said. “They run good stuff and have bought into what he's doing as a coach. That was a tough game for me because I always try to root for former players who are coaching. This one, however, I couldn't do that. I really love and am very proud, seeing these former players who are coaching and officiating now. Their love and passion for the game is huge for me as their former coach."

Saturday’s highlights

The Tigers started strong, nailing two 3-pointers, one by Mase Osborne and the other by Marshall Woolf. Osborne also made a basket, and Trey Fisher and Tanner Halling each went 1-2 from the line to put the Tigers up 10-4.

The Tigers kept on snagging Bulldog turnovers and converting on missed shots and five missed free throws to go up 19-11 at halftime.

The third quarter proved more of a struggle, however, as the Tigers managed just seven points during the period but still led 26-20 entering the fourth quarter.

Halling set the pace in the fourth quarter, scoring three baskets, including one to the put Tigers up 36-24 with 1:04 left to play.

Attica, however, score two straight to cut the lead to 36-34

With the clock running out, the Bulldogs tried to work in for the long shot, guarded closely by the Tigers. It missed, and the Tigers move on to state.

Friday's game

The Tigers once again surged out in front, leading 17-2 to open the game. Minneola could not mount a challenge. 

Eddie Calleros and Cashe McVey each hit three-pointers in the opening minutes. Calleros would hit two more from behind the arc in the second and. Halling made an old-fashioned three-point play. The Tiger led 35-13 at halftime. 

Eight Tigers scored in the third, including a four-point play at the buzzer by sophomore Uriel. Halling added three baskets, and Osborne added two. Marshall and Toby Woolf each made a basket.  Sead Pepic, and Calleros each hit a pair of free throws as the Tigers led 59-22 entering the final period.

The Tigers enter state as the sixth seed, facing No. 3 Hanover. Central Plains (25-0) is the top seed at the other end of the bracket.

"Our guys are excited to be going back to state.” Kinnamon said, “Hopefully we can get there this time in an underdog role, play loose and free and make some noise."