Varsity Kansas

Class 2A boys tournament preview

At Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan

Thursday’s Quarterfinals

3 p.m.: Washington County vs. St. John

No. 8 Washington County (14-8) — The Tigers have withstood two separate three-game losing streaks to make it to state for the first time since 2011. That trip ended with a third-place finish. Balance is a key for Washington County, as only one player averages double figures. Guard Kyle McGatlin leads with 13.7 points, while four other players average at least six points.

No. 1 St. John (23-0) — The Tigers are looking to become back-to-back state champions in two different classes. They defeated South Haven to win last year’s 1A-Division I championship. Forward Dean Wade (6-foot-8) leads the team with 23 points and eight rebounds. Dominance has been the name of the game for coach Clint Kinnamon’s squad, as they’ve entered the fourth quarter with a running clock in 15 of their 23 games. Kinnamon is the younger brother of McPherson coach Kurt Kinnamon.

4:45: Hillsboro vs. Olpe

No. 5 Hillsboro (20-3) — The Trojans return to the state tournament after a 10-year absence. The school dropped a classification in all sports other than football and will be competing at the 2A tournament for the first time in 40 years. They are one of only two 2A schools in their league. All three losses came against state qualifiers Hesston (3A), Holcomb (3A) and Pratt (4A). The top scorers are guards Christian Ratzlaff (17.5) and Brett Weinbrenner (14.5).

No. 4 Olpe (20-3) — The Eagles return to 2A after a first-round loss to Centralia in last year’s 1A-I tournament. Bo Krueger leads the team with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Chance Stout is right behind with 14 points and nine rebounds. Two of their three losses came against 1A-I qualifier Marais Des Cygnes.

6:30: Pittsburg Colgan vs. Valley Falls

No. 7 Pittsburg Colgan (18-4) — This is the 13th consecutive season that the Panthers have reached the tournament. It’s the first at the Class 2A level since 2011. They last won a championship in 2008, but finished second in 2009 and 2010. Guard Austin Commons leads in scoring with 16.3 points, while guard Garrett Normand anchors 6.3 rebounds.

No. 2 Valley Falls (22-1) — Valley Falls has won 19 straight and its making its first state trip since 2001. Their only loss came against 3A qualifier Wellsville. Senior Luke Burns leads the way with 17.4 points while Ben Gantz averages 10.7 points and six rebounds. The Dragons have won decisively for much of the season as they average nearly 20 points more than their opponent.

8:15: Meade vs. Plainville

No. 6 Meade (20-3) — The Buffaloes return to state for the third season in a row, but it’ll be the first time that they are sitting below the top seed. The only two losses of the previous two seasons were in back-to-back championship games. Forward Morgan Davis, a three-year starter, averages 21.5 points and 10 rebounds while two-year starting point guard Jett Little averages 14.3 points and four assists.

No. 3 Plainville (21-2) — The trip to Manhattan ends a 20-year tournament absence for Plainville. They held a 13-game winning streak during the season that ended against 1A-Division I qualifier Hoxie. Forward Hadley Gillium, who averages 22 points and 15 rebounds, leads the Cardinals. Other double-figure scorers include guards Brent Gehring (12) and Logan Frederking (10).

Friday’s semifinals

Washington County-St. John winner vs. Hillsboro-Olpe winner, 4:45 p.m.

Pittsburg Colgan-Valley Falls winner vs. Meade-Plainville winner, 8:15

Saturday’s finals

Third-place game, 2 p.m.

Championship, 6:15

Joanna Chadwick’s picks

St. John over Plainville

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