After four years Cahokia coach Darian Nash knows exactly what buttons to push in order to get the most out of Keenan Minor.
Nash also knows which ones not to push.
And so when Minor was held scoreless in the first half of the Comanches' Class 3A Springfield Super-Sectional against Chatham-Glenwood on Tuesday, Nash knew what to do.
Nash stoked the engine.
"Keenan is a quiet kid and he doesn't like it when you get on him,'' Nash said. "All I said to him was that it's time to start the engine. You're a senior and this is it.''
In the second half, the Chatham-Glenwood Titans were run over by the Comanches. Minor roared to life with 22 points -- including the go-ahead 3-point basket with 5:01 remaining -- as Cahokia earned its first trip to the state tournament in 28 years with a 56-48 victory.
For Minor -- who three years earlier on the same Prairie Convention Center floor tallied 24 of his 26 points in the second half in a Comanches super-sectional loss to Champaign Centennial -- the win was sweet.
"My freshman year we were in the same situation and we came up a little short. We were determined not to let it happen again,''Minor said. "To be the second team in school history to get to state makes all the hard work we put in worth it.
"None of us have ever gotten to this point before and so we're all really looking forward to this experience.''
Minor will lead Cahokia (32-3) into a Class 3A state tournament semifinal at 2 p.m. on Friday against Chicago Orr (23-2) at Carver Arena in Peoria.
For Minor, who leads the Comanches in scoring (21.7 points per game), the 2012-13 season has been one in which he's become a total player.
Somewhat shy and soft-spoken off the court, Minor has developed better ball-handling and passing skills. But what makes the 6-foot, 2-inch Minor special is his unlimited shooting range.
Minor has 98 3-point baskets for the season and leads the St. Louis-area in 3-point field goals per game (3.63). Minor has made 98 of his 149 3-point attempts (65.6 percent).
Minor hit nine 3-pointers and scored 30 points in Cahokia's 81-71 win over Althoff late in the regular season.
One person who appreciates Minor's unlimited range is former Cahokia coach Ken McBride. The Comanches head coach from 1977-90, McBride led the team to a fourth-place finish in the 1985 Class AA state tournament. McBride is a volunteer assistant this season
McBride calls Minor the best pure shooter he's ever seen.
"I get asked that question all the time by friends. But Keenan is the best high school pure-shooter I've ever seen. And I've been around for a long time,'' McBride said. "Now there are times when he disappears, but his range is just amazing. We're talking 26-28 feet range.''
Minor also is unselfish to a fault and has taken over the role as the Comanches' leader
"I think I've become more of a leader this year. I'm demanding more things rather than just standing back and waiting for things to happen. I'm trying to take control of the situation more than I have in the past,'' Minor said. "I also think I'm a smarter player.
"It's always been the little things which have held me back in the past. I've spent a lot of time on my ball-handling skills. I'm not forcing things as much.''
Nash appreciates Minor's team-oriented approach, but would like to see Minor take over a game a little earlier.
"Like from the opening tip,'' Nash said, smiling. "The other night against Chatham-Glenwood, it looked like Keenan was deferring his teammates in the first half.
"It's great to be unselfish, but he's a big part of our offense and we need him to score.''
Minor played basketball all summer with the Southwestern Illinois Jets AAU team, where one of his teammates was Belleville East senior and Illinois recruit Malcolm Hill.
"He's a great player and a very good person,' Minor said of Hill. "It was a lot of fun traveling and playing basketball all summer. But it made me realize that I have a lot of work to do if I'm going to achieve my goals.''
Minor's goal of playing college basketball is well within reach. Still waiting for his ACT scores, Minor just wants to play somewhere next year.
"Junior college, Division I, Division II, it really doesn't matter,'' Minor said. "I just want to find a school whose system is one where I fit in and will get a chance to play.
"It also has to be one where I'll be happy and be able to get a great education.''
A good weekend in Peoria should help Minors' college chances. But Minor has other priorities this weekend.
"Like I said, being the second team in school history to reach the state tournament is a great accomplishment and we're looking forward to the experience. But we're not done yet. We're going up looking to win the state title,'' Minor said. "They (Chicago Orr) I know have a couple of big guys up front, but we've got guys inside like Darius (Austin) and Vincent (Jackson) who are great athletes and play bigger than their size.
"We haven't played our best game yet. We can play better. Hopefully this weekend, we will.''