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TMP girls have roles to fill

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Rose McFarland returned as Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' basketball coach for the second time last winter. The Monarchs opened 1-10, but finished 5-4, including a close road loss to Russell, the eventual fourth-place finisher in Class 4A, in sub-state. TMP's average margin of loss was six points.

A year later, McFarland graduated her three leading scorers, including all-state senior guard Heather Ruder. She has just one senior, forward Samantha Younie, and two juniors, but a talented freshmen class. Younie is also the lone returning starter.

"We are further ahead as far as knowing the program and the system than what we were last year at this time," McFarland said.

The Monarchs open the season Thursday against Garden City, a strong Class 6A team with returning WAC Player of the Year Taryn Tempel, in the 31st annual Gerald Mitchell Hays City Shoot-Out. Start time is 6:30 p.m. at the Hays Middle School gym.

"The girls are on the right page, and I think they have bought into the system," McFarland said. "Last year was a transition for those seniors, because it was a whole new program and new ideas."

Junior guard/forward Melissa Pfeifer is the top returning scorer at 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest. Younie averaged 3.1 points and 3.7 rebounds, while junior Kaylor Gottschalk averaged 2.9 points and 3.8 rebounds. In preseason, McFarland believes the defense is ahead of the offense. McFarland wants to put pressure on the opponents and will play both man and zones. Last season, the Monarchs averaged 42 points per contest, but allowed 48.

"We are real scrappy," McFarland said. "A lot of those girls played JV last year, and that was one of their real strong points. Put some pressure on defensively."

Offensively, McFarland wants to push the ball, but believes the team first needs to "take care of the basketball," get into an offense and execute in the half court. Last season, the Monarchs had a dropoff when certain players left the floor.

A year later, McFarland said virtually everyone has similar talent. She expects to play multiple freshmen Thursday and throughout the season.

"It has been real competitive at practice," McFarland said.

In addition to Younie, Pfeifer and Gottschalk, junior guard Kelli Veach and sophomore guards Annaka Applequist and Tyra Younie should see playing time. McFarland listed five freshmen who could contribute: guards Megan Koenigsman, Madyson Koerner and Jodi Veach and forwards Deonna Wellbrock and Katelyn Zimmerman. Koerner is a strong shooter, while Jodi Veach plays well on defense and Zimmerman is the team's tallest player at 5-foot-10.