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Defense key in TMP rout of Russell

By TYLER PARKS

sports@dailynews.net

RUSSELL -- Defense has been a big part of practice as of late for the Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' basketball team.

The work paid off in a 58-13 rout of winless Russell on Friday night.

"When we understand that defense is what gives us a chance, we are a better ball club. We are better offensively, we are better handling the ball and taking care of it and we rebound and play harder," Monarch coach Joe Hertel said.

The Monarchs only allowed two points in the first quarter and six in the entire first half.

It wasn't that the Monarchs were defending shots well, but they weren't allowing the Broncos to get shots off. Russell attempted only 17 shots in the first half and committed 19 turnovers due to the stingy Monarch defense.

"Defense set the tone of the game early and it was just take it to the house after that," Hertel said.

After having a quiet first quarter, missing all six of his shot attempts, TMP junior Jordan Gottschalk caught fire, hitting six of his next 11. He finished 3-for-4 at the free throw line to score a team -high 15 points. He recorded his first career double-double, adding 10 rebounds in just three quarters played.

"Jordan Gottschalk has steadily improved, he's not the fastest man on the floor, but has steadily improved and worked really hard on his defense. He has become a stronger force aggression-wise inside for us and can knock down shots," Hertel said.

Junior Ryan Mayorga came out hot, hitting five of his first seven shots. He finished with a season-high 14 points and grabbed four rebounds.

"Ryan Mayorga has been injured, he was injured last year, it has been a tough go for him," Hertel said. "But we need him on the floor. He gives us a little bit of length, couple more inches and he is pretty agile as well. We need to keep him healthy and that is a big concern for me moving forward."

"Both Jordan Gottschalk and Ryan Mayorga had a nice contribution on both ends."

Russell continued its season struggles, dropping to 0-9, but defensively, held TMP to less than 50 percent shooting and managed 20 boards.

"The competition wasn't real strong, but we were able to get a win. That's why we came here, to get a good win before a tough tournament week ahead," Hertel said.

TMP travels to Hillsboro on Monday to take on 6-3 Holcomb at 3 p.m. to kickoff the Trojan Classic.

Holcomb started the season 6-1, but has suffered back-to-back losses, including a 55-48 setback against Ulysses on Friday.