The St. John Tigers knew they had their work cut out for them matched up against a gauntlet of large, athletic teams and still came up with six successive victories to win Kingman's MAYB tournament this weekend, defeating Goessel, Haven, the Wichita Jets, the South Central Young Bloods, Derby and the Kansas Falcons in the finals.
St. John surprised just about everyone in the house with their six wins against players from mostly much larger 4A-6A schools, many of them all-stars in their own right. If the St. John fans were surprised at all, it was because the Tigers were missing two of their top players Dean Wade and Trey Nelson, both out with injuries, and still the Tigers got the job done.
The Tigers played their first two games Friday evening, first facing off against Goessel in pool play. St. John took control right from the start, building up a 31-6 lead just before half-time and won the game 61-34.
St. John then faced Haven, a tall and talented team. While the Tigers kept the lead throughout the half, Haven was still within striking distance with St. John leading 28-22 at half-time. The Tigers quickness and defense slowly built up a 13 point lead. And with the Tigers started slowing things down for the good open shot while burning seconds off the clock, it looked as if the outcome was almost a foregone conclusion.
However Haven started narrowing the Tigers lead, but it was “too little too late” as the clock ran down with St. John recording their second win 51-44.
On Saturday the Tigers went 3-0 in pool play defeating the all-star Wichita Jets in St. John's closest match 62-60. Then they were matched up against the Young Bloods, a Southern Kansas all-star team in the quarterfinals. (The Young Bloods were comprised of players from Cunningham, Garden Plain, Pretty Prairie and Kingman.) The Tigers got a 16 point, 43-37 win and moved on to the semi's to face Derby.
St. John took 6A Derby to the woodshed, getting another 16 point win 54-38, then faced perhaps their toughest competition of the weekend - the Falcons - an all-star team comprised of last year's senior players from Newton, Moundridge, Derby, Wichita and other large schools from the surrounding area.
Since it was St. John's third game of the day, the Tigers conserved energy by slowing things down some. And in combination with shooting the ball well had St. John coming out on top winning the championship game 58-48, culminating an exciting weekend of great basketball.
The Tigers will be playing two games in Larned's Summer Basketball League this Tuesday evening at Larned's Middle School Gym. The first game starts at 6pm., the second at 7pm. The Tigers junior varsity will be playing Macksville at 6pm. in Larned's Community Center.