TMP girls pull away for win
Published on -2/21/2012, 11:29 AM
By RANDY GONZALES
The early start time might have caught the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' basketball team by surprise.
Playing a makeup game with Scott City almost two hours earlier than normal on Monday, seventh-ranked TMP struggled in the first half before pulling away in the second half for a 61-43 win at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
"I thought that first half was a very slow half," TMP coach Alan Billinger said. "We just didn't look like we got into an offensive flow in the game in that first quarter.
"We really didn't do a very good job on the defensive end," he added.
"We let them have a couple too many buckets, didn't do a good job on the boards, either."
Yet, TMP (16-3) led 32-27 at halftime.
But it was Scott City (5-14) which started out the game strong.
Scott City made its first four shots and jumped out to a 10-2 lead before TMP got within 14-11 after the first quarter. Senior Audrey Baker scored nine of her team-high 18 points in the first eight minutes for Scott City.
TMP took its first lead late in the first half on a 3-pointer from junior point guard Heather Ruder to make it 25-24. The Monarchs stretched the lead to 32-24 on a bucket by senior Rebecca Pray, followed by another Ruder 3-pointer, then another basket from Ruder with 40 seconds left in the second quarter.
Billinger didn't start senior forward Jenna Lang, who on Friday against Cimarron injured the same ankle she hurt at the end of volleyball season. But with the Monarchs looking out of sorts, Billinger was forced to bring Lang into the game early in the first quarter. Lang scored all four of her points in the first quarter, and finished the game with four assists.
"Once we got Jenna in there, things picked up a little bit," Billinger said. "It's too bad, because with that ankle, it's very tender, and we weren't supposed to use her tonight unless we absolutely had to.
"And we had to tonight, to get us going," he added.
But after TMP took that late eight-point lead, Scott City scored the final five points of the first half to trail 32-29 at the break.
"Definitely, first half was good for us," Scott City coach Mark Compos said.
But the second half was all TMP. The Monarchs got out on the break on missed shots and turnovers, outscoring Scott City 18-4 in the third period.
TMP senior forward Rachel Jacobs, who had two points and two rebounds in the first half, pulled down six rebounds in the third quarter and scored eight points in the period -- including back-to-back 3-pointers. The second trey was a 30-footer at the buzzer to give TMP a 50-33 lead and produce a sheepish grin from Jacobs.
Jacobs also dished out a pretty assist in the third quarter. After stealing the ball near the Scott City basket, Jacobs threw a perfect baseball pass to a streaking Ruder in stride past halfcourt for a layup.
"I told them at halftime, our goal was to run them, because I didn't think they would be able to stay with us by the time the fourth quarter came around," Billinger said.
Ruder, who swished five 3-pointers, tied her career high with 22 points. Senior Rebecca Pray added 13 points, and senior Allison Marsell came off the bench to hit a pair of treys and score 10 points. Jacobs added 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
"I thought Rebecca Pray had as good a game as she's played all year," Billinger said. "Allison Marsell had the game of her four-year career. ... Very impressed with her."
After making four 3-pointers in the first half, TMP made four from beyond the arc in the third quarter to end any Scott City hopes of a comeback.
"Give credit to TMP, they kept hitting from outside," Compos said.
"You can't assume that eventually they're going to miss."
Billinger wasn't concerned at halftime, just for that same exact reason.
"I thought it would be just a matter of time," he said. "I knew that our shots were going to fall."
TMP will end the regular season Thursday at Hutchinson-Trinity.