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TMP boys rally for win


HUTCHINSON --  Despite scoring only six points in the first quarter, a 12-point deficit in the third quarter and an unstoppable big man on the other side of the court, Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' basketball coach Joe Hertel was jubilant about his team's performance on Thursday at Hutchinson Trinity.

"I believe tonight's game for us was our best performance of the year," Hertel said. "This game was about battling ... I'm so happy because I felt we got stronger and more physical as the game went on."

Led by 18 points from senior Jordan Gottschalk and key shots from sophomore Jared Vitztum late in the game, TMP (11-9) rallied from a double-digit deficit to defeat Trinity (9-11) in both teams' regular season finale, 55-50.

The win came just two days after TMP escaped a two-win Colby team 60-55 on senior night, a game in which the Monarchs trailed during stretches of the contest.

"I think the two games, Colby and this game tonight, were basically mirror images of one another," Hertel said. "I don't think there is anything in basketball that builds confidence more for a team than to be way down at the beginning where probably some fans said, 'Wow, they are going to get killed tonight,' and we very slowly and deliberately and patiently battled our way back in."

The Monarchs dug themselves into a 14-6 hole after a quarter and trailed 31-24 at halftime. Outside of junior Kameron Schmidt's three 3-pointers, the TMP offense was very anemic against Trinity in the first half.

TMP's offense was incredibly efficient in the second half, committing only one turnover after having five in the first half.

"A statistic that I've recently really fallen in love with is points per possession. When you don't throw the ball to the other team, your points per possession is solid," Hertel said. "Even on a night where particularly early we weren't making anything, when you take care of the ball and get a chance at the basket on every possession, good things are going to happen eventually."

TMP's largest deficit game at 40-28 midway through the third quarter but had cut it to six points by the time the fourth quarter got underway. A key stretch for the Monarch's came early in the final period, a 12-2 run for TMP. The run ended with a Vitztum jump shot, which gave the Monarchs a 48-47 lead with just over three minutes to play. It was the first lead of the game for TMP.

Trinity regained the lead at 50-49 before Vitztum hit his biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give TMP a 52-50 lead with 1:33 to play. Strong defense and a trio of free throws finished out the win for the Monarchs.

"Jared gave us a big lift and I'm proud of him," Hertel said. "He's just a baby and the future is everything up. He's already contributing at a very high level and I hope he keeps going with it. The sky is the limit for the boy."

Vitztum finished with 15 points on 4 of 8 shooting, eight of the points coming in the fourth quarter. Schmidt chipped in 10 for the Monarchs.

Trinity was led by its 6-foot-5 senior big man Jerome Miller's 16 points.

While it wasn't the smoothest win of the season for TMP and had no impact on its sub-state seeding, which was announced Wednesday, Hertel believes Thursday's win over Trinity might be the most important win of the season.

"I think the results of this game and how we accomplished a 'W' is all the value as we move into the playoffs this coming week," Hertel said. "I'm certainly going to draw every piece of meaningful value from these last two wins as we head into the playoffs because I think they will serve us well."

TMP will be the No. 3 seed in the Hoisington sub-state. The Monarchs will face six-seeded Norton Community High School (8-12) at 7 p.m. Monday at Hays Middle School. The winner will face the winner of Minneapolis (14-6) and Hoisington (7-13) on Thursday in Hoisington.

Trinity girls escape TMP despite 3-point barrage in second half

The Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' basketball team ended the first half against Hutchinson Trinity on Thursday 0 for 5 from 3-point range and trailed 23-14.

Then the Monarchs outscored Trinity 12-3 in the third quarter behind four made 3-pointers (6 of 19 for the game) to set up a wild and entertaining final quarter, only to fall short 49-46 in the regular-season finale for both teams.

"It's just they hit a couple of shots in that fourth quarter. We were trying to defend a couple of their shooters and some of the other girls stepped up and hit those shots," TMP coach Rose McFarland said. "We were on the boards offensively and it seemed like we missed some chip shots. If we would have made those I think we would have pulled away from them."

The two teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 26 and nearly matched that total in the fourth quarter alone. The Celtics rebuilt its lead out to 39-34 with three minutes to play, but a 7-3 spurt over 90 seconds cut the Trinity lead to just one point at 42-41.

But five quick points by Trinity (12-8) would end up being the difference, even after another 3-pointer, this time by TMP freshman Madyson Koerner, cut the Celtic lead back to two points with less than 30 seconds to play.

Missed free throws by Trinity led to multiple chances for TMP to tie the game in the final seconds, but a called jump ball on one possession gave the ball back to Trinity, and a traveling call in the final five seconds of play on TMP was the final nail in the coffin.

"They played a very aggressive defense," McFarland said.

"We missed a few shots I thought we should have made. But again, we were behind and battled back. We have to finish a game though."

Freshman Megan Koenigsman led TMP with 16 points, the only Monarch in double figures. Konner Brenning had 14 points to lead Trinity.

The second straight loss to end the regular season will send the Monarchs into the postseason at 7-13. TMP will be the eight seed when it begins play in the Hoisington sub-state on Tuesday, its first-round game being at top-seeded Phillipsburg (15-5) beginning at 7 p.m.

It will be a rematch of Phillipsburg's 47-32 win on Dec. 17 in Phillipsburg.

"I'm sure they are improved, too, but I think we are a much better team than we were the first time we played them," McFarland said. "Right now, to me, the records go out the window. We don't even care what the record is. It's us against them. You got to win three games to go to state and that's our focus."

The winner moves on to play the winner of Beloit (12-8) and Lyons (12-8) on Friday in Hoisington.