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Monarch guards step up in TMP boys' win

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' basketball coach Joe Hertel emphasized after Tuesday's game when some players struggle, others have to step up.

In Hertel's eyes against Ellinwood at Al Billinger Fieldhouse, TMP's forwards struggled, but the Monarch guards more than made up for it in TMP's 65-61 win.

TMP improved to 5-9 and 2-2 in MCAA play.

TMP sophomore guard Kameron Schmidt provided an encore to his performance Thursday against Hoisington when he scored 14 points with 12 coming in the fourth quarter.

Against Ellinwood (5-9, 1-2 MCAA), Schmidt led the squad with 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and senior point guard Shane Zimmerman added 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting.

"We had some areas in the game where we struggled, but I was really, really happy with my guard play tonight," Hertel said. "Those guys did a solid job on both ends of the court."

TMP's forwards had solid games in one aspect of the game or another, but Hertel said no one was stellar on both ends of the court.

TMP junior forward Jordan Gottschalk scored 14 points, but Hertel said Gottschalk was off defensively.

Senior Anthony Walters was strong defensively but struggled offensively, going 0-for-4. Sophomore Cameron Fouts did a good job getting to the foul line, but Hertel said he was sometimes late on defense, causing him to get in foul trouble early and eventually foul out.

"If some guys are off, other guys have to pick it up," Hertel said. "I thought that was kind of the theme of the game."

That's what the guards did Tuesday, as TMP slowly ballooned its lead larger and larger throughout the game.

The Monarchs trailed only once in the contest at 7-6 in the first quarter, but then they stretched their lead to as much as 17 with a minute remaining in the third quarter.

Ellinwood got hot offensively late, as the Eagles attempted a frenetic finish, making three of four 3-pointers in two minutes to narrow TMP's lead. But it was too late.

"It was kind of what we said the whole time," said Ellinwood head coach Dustin Klassen. "It was going to be a battle of four quarters, and we were hoping to win the war. But we fell short today. It was a fun game to be a part of."

Ellinwood might have had a better shot of coming back if it hadn't lost its best player midway through the fourth quarter.

Senior forward Kyle Blakeslee bloodied his nose with four minutes and 50 seconds remaining and left for the remainder of the contest. At that point, Ellinwood had narrowed TMP's lead to 53-47.

With Blakeslee out, TMP went on an 8-2 run, giving the Monarchs a cushion before Ellinwood's frenetic finish.

"It caused a mismatch," Klassen said regarding the loss of Blakeslee. "He bangs there in the post. He's not a real big guy, but he sure plays a whole lot bigger than he is. It hurt us, but we were able to get matched up and continued to fight in there."

Blakeslee finished with a team-high 18 points. Senior Derek Ward added 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

The Monarchs have a week off to prepare for a road game Tuesday at Larned.

"I don't know what it is about Larned," Hertel said. "It's been hard for me in the last four, five, six years to get my kids to play well down there, and we are going to have to play well down there to come away with a 'W.' "

Hertel said in February, he likes to maintain a Tuesday-Friday game rotation to prepare for sub-state, but this Friday, the team doesn't compete. Hertel joked he would have to have a discussion with TMP athletic director Gene Flax.

"We have a glitch there, and we'll have to deal with it," Hertel said regarding his team's preparation for the stretch run to sub-state.