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Zimmerman leads TMP boys to road win


COLBY -- With the game tied in the final seconds Tuesday, the Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' basketball team needed someone to step up and lead them through the final stretch of a comeback victory against Colby.

Senior Shane Zimmerman was TMP's answer. Zimmerman led the Monarchs past the Eagles in a 51-47 shootout that came down to the final possession.

"Shane is the epitome of a team leader," said TMP head coach Joe Hertel. "He knows what it takes to make plays at this level. He is not overly verbal but he is verbal enough to get people where they need to go. I'm proud of his effort."

It was senior night at the Colby Community Building, and it was a senior that came of big for the Eagles as well. Senior Todd Kane led the Eagle charge with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field.

If wasn't that the shots weren't falling for Colby, it was they couldn't get to the basket. The Eagles committed 27 to TMP's 15 turnovers, and shot 19 fewer times than the Monarchs.

The Eagles shot 46 percent from the field on 19 fewer shots, while holding the Monarchs to 30 percent.

TMP came out flat to start the game shooting 4 of 16 in the first quarter. Hertel had a feeling this would happen after Monday's practice.

"We didn't practice with a lot of energy, and the body language wasn't right," Hertel said. "After three and a half decades of doing this, I knew that wasn't going to bode well for us when we get on the court."

The Eagles shot 5 of 12 in the quarter, but committed eight turnovers.

The Eagles took advantage of TMP's lack of intensity, stretching the lead to nine early in the second quarter before an 8-4 TMP run just before half kept the Eagles from pulling too far ahead.

"When you have a lead like that you just have to slow down, be patient, eliminate the turnovers and really look for better shots," said Colby coach Jerad Johnson said.

"I found a group late in the first half that I thought gave us a little bit of a spurt, and we came back from down nine and got it back to four," Hertel said. "It was just a struggle the whole night through. It is one of those things when you allow yourself to be in that state of mind it creates a lethargic body, and that is kind of the way we played the whole game.

"I'm thankful and appreciative of the guys who closed it out and found enough energy to make the plays and help us pull this one out," Hertel added.

The third quarter wasn't good for either team. Both scored single digits.

"Second half, we wanted to come out and match our energy we had in the first half," Johnson said. "The first time we played TMP we came out and played a really tough first half, and then second half we had a big let down energy-wise."

TMP slowly crawled back through the fourth quarter, and finally tied the game at 41 on a Kameron Schmidt layup just after the three-minute mark.

"Defensively we had a couple of let downs, we didn't rotate and communicate quite well enough and let the crowd get to us," Johnson said.

The game was tied at 44 until Schmidt gave the Monarchs their first lead since the first quarter with a 3-point shot from the top of the key.

"It was probably our biggest offensive play of the night," Hertel said. "Kameron had missed a few really good looks earlier in the night, but this was a specifically drawn up play, and I told Shane to the second option because I knew Kameron was due.

"It was our first sign that we could pull this one out," he added.

The Monarch excitement was short-lived as the Colby's Kane answered right back with a 3-pointer of his own to tie it at 47.

Zimmerman spent the game terrorizing the Eagle offense and directing his team, but it was never more evident than in the final moments of the game. He was directing players where to go, and putting it on himself to make the final plays.

Zimmerman's pass inside to junior Jordan Gottschalk with 14.5 seconds left set Gottschalk up for a chance to take the lead from the free throw line, where he made two.

Zimmerman followed that with a steal that led to a lay-up by junior Ryan Mayorga and capped the victory.

"Shane made some plays on both ends of the floor that basically saved our tails; there is no other way to put it," Hertel said.

"Our kids, I don't know if you'd say panicked, or just got a little too excited and hurried it. We just didn't make the plays late," Johnson said.

"We know coach Hertel will have his kids ready and they played hard for four quarters. We knew we didn't get the best they had in the first half, we knew they were better shooters than that, so we were trying to prepare for that and come out and stick to the game plan and keep playing hard."

TMP is scheduled to host Hutchinson-Trinity on Thursday at Al Billinger Fieldhouse in the final game of the regular season.