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SPOTLIGHT
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TMP girls earn first win of season

Published on -12/21/2012, 10:23 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

After dropping the first six games, Thomas More Prep-Marian freshman forward Melissa Pfeifer admitted her team needed a win. The Monarchs needed something to make them feel positive heading into the holiday break.

The Monarchs (1-6) got it Thursday against Larned High School at Al Billinger Fieldhouse, winning in blowout fashion 53-23 with a continuous clock for the final 6 minutes, and 49 seconds.

"We were all getting down, but it helps our confidence a lot getting this win," Pfeifer said.

Just a freshman, Pfeifer spurred the Monarchs forward with a second-quarter surge. TMP scored 19 points in the second quarter, and Pfeifer had 12 of them.

She actually scored all of her points in that quarter, but it was still good for a career high. She went 4 of 4 from the field and 3 of 3 from the free throw line, as she took advantage of fast-break opportunities.

"Coach just told us to hustle up and down the court, so I just tried to do that the best I could, I guess," Pfeifer said.

Larned (2-5) struggled in transition, as TMP deployed a full-court press and trapped the Indians' ball carriers at halfcourt throughout the game. Larned finished with 29 turnovers.

"People are starting to anticipate more instead of sitting back and waiting for them to bring it to us," said TMP head coach Rose McFarland. "We are getting more aggressive. That's the way we want to play."

Senior point guard Heather Ruder caused trouble for Larned through the first three quarters. She finished with 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting as well as grabbing five rebounds.

Ruder created turnover after turnover and executed the fast-break offense well. According to TMP's unofficial stats from the team's stats crew, Ruder had eight assists and 11 steals.

"We wanted to run a lot, because we knew they weren't quick up and down the court," Ruder said. "And they don't have very many ball handlers, so we wanted to put a lot of pressure up top to force turnovers."

After dropping six in a row for the first time since 2001-2002, Ruder said it felt good to get a win.

"Since it's a league game, it's even better," she said. "Hopefully, we can come back and get the league championship. That's one of our goals. Hopefully we can do that."

Senior forward Jenna Schuckman added eight points and six rebounds, a team high, and senior guard Allison Pfeifer scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Larned sophomore forward Maci Perez led her squad in scoring with 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Senior Reagan Quick added six points.

TMP dominated from the very start of the game, going on a 7-0 run. Larned scored in spurts, but TMP just distanced itself more and more after each quarter, leading 11-6 after the first, 30-14 after the second and 45-18 after the third before pulling the starters midway through the fourth quarter.

McFarland said the aggressive, fast-paced transition game fits her team well.

"This is how we want to play," she said. "We want to put pressure on and get up and down the floor. When we get in a half-court game, we just have to slow down a bit."

The Monarchs were grinning all evening. After dropping six in a row -- with all but one close -- TMP hasn't had many reasons to smile. The Monarchs had some solid performances, but in the end, they still all resulted in losses.

But Thursday, everything was going right for them.

Even after Ruder was fouled hard and knocked to the ground on a transition layup attempt, a giant smile still stretched across her face as she approached the foul line.

"I'm just happy for the girls. I'm just happy they had a good night," McFarland said. "... They needed to go out and have some fun tonight, and that's what they did."

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