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Second half pushes Garden past TMP boys

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

They hung with an older, more experienced team for the first 23 minutes of the game.

Then experience won out.

The Garden City High School boys' basketball team went on a 15-2 run late in the third quarter and halfway through the fourth period Thursday night to defeat Thomas More Prep-Marian 65-54 in first-round action of the 31st annual Gerald Mitchell Hays City Shoot-Out at the Hays Middle School gym.

TMP will play Colby in today's 4:45 p.m. consolation semifinals at the HMS gym, and Garden City will take on Great Bend at the same time in the championship semis at the Hays High School gym. Garden City beat Colby 59-53 in other first-round action at HMS Thursday.

The Monarchs, sparked by a dominating inside game by junior Cameron Fouts in the second quarter, actually led the Buffaloes 30-28 at halftime. Fouts scored 10 of his game-high 18 points during that quarter.

And TMP stayed right with Garden -- with several players back from last year's Class 6A state qualifying team -- until late in the third period.

But Garden City, hanging onto a one-point lead, 43-42, scored two quick baskets to head into the final period, where it outscored TMP 11-2 before the Monarchs started a comeback.

TMP got back to within single digits at 63-54 with about two minutes left in the game but missed four straight free throws down the stretch, including the front end of two one-and-one opportunities.

"With about two and a half (minutes) left, we kind of conceded," TMP coach Joe Hertel said. "If we wouldn't have missed so many free throws ..."

Garden City, on the other hand, scored seven of its points at the line during its early run in the fourth quarter. But even during that time, TMP kept its composure, looking a lot more in control even in the face of adversity than in last year's first round of the pre-season tourney.

"That was the plan, not to let the wheels fall off," Hertel said. "Last year, we got it handed to us by Kearney" (in an 83-44 loss).

"This time, we wanted to stay tough and poised," he added.

That they did, and Hertel got a good look at a lot of players. All 12 players who suited up played, including four sophomores, and contributed in one way or another.

"That was good," Hertel said. "It wasn't just me putting them in there; they contributed. Some babies, kids in their first varsity experience, found themselves tonight."

One of those was sophomore Jared Vitztum, who came off the bench to spark the Monarchs in the first quarter.

His fourth consecutive free throw late in the quarter pulled TMP to within one, 15-14, and his 3-pointer late in the second quarter tied the game at 28-all. A Fouts bucket a few seconds later then gave the Monarchs their two-point halftime lead.

Vitztum finished with nine points, as did senior Ryan Mayorga.

Garden City's balanced attack was led by seniors Hunter Delgado and Tristan Ninanga, junior Caleb Tramp and senior Mitchell Hernandez, who scored 13, 12, 11 and 10, respectively.

Garden City 65, TMP 54

GARDEN CITY (1-0)

Hunter Delgado 5 3-5 13, Mitchell Hernandez 4 0-0 10, Tristan Nanninga 4 4-7 12, Rodriguez 1 2-2 4, Caleb Tramp 5 1-3 11, Olivas 1 0-0 2, Koster 3 0-2 7, Parr 2 2-2 6, Love 0 0-0 0, . Totals -- 25 12-21 65.

TMP (0-1)

Dreher 0 0-2 0, Schmidt 3 0-0 6, Megaffin 1 1-2 4, Gottschalk 2 0-0 4, Schibi 0 0-0 0, Cameron Fouts 6 4-8 18, Mayorga 4 1-1 9, Vitztum 2 4-4 9, Schippers 1 0-0 2, Ruder 0 0-0 0, Hoffman 1 0-0 2, Flax 0 0-1 0. Totals -- 21 10-18 54.

Garden City 15 13 19 18 -- 65

TMP 14 16 12 12 -- 54

3-point goals -- Garden City 3 (Koster 1, Hernandez 2); TMP 2 (Megaffin 1, Vitztum 1). Total fouls -- Garden City 19, TMP 16. Fouled out -- Tramp, Gaarden City. Technical fouls -- None.