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TMP boys see season end

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Tuesday's first-round Class 3A sub-state clash at Al Billinger Fieldhouse pitted two inexperienced squads against each other.

For once, Thomas More Prep-Marian actually was the more experienced of the two teams on the court, but it didn't seem to matter at the end. Sophomores led Minneapolis (9-11), which utilized just four upperclassmen, and the Lions defeated TMP 47-41.

"Our kids have been growing over the year," said Minneapolis head coach Erik Shupe. "They've kind of had a big picture view of the season, and I think we came ready to play. I think we showed a lot of maturity that has taken place over the year."

TMP's season is over.

The Monarchs came a long way from the beginning of the season when they started 1-5. TMP (8-12) ended the year with a losing record, but head coach Joe Hertel said he was pleased with his squad's progression.

"I really don't see it as anything but a positive point of reference from where we were to where we are and as we try to get beyond that as we bring back some experienced players a year from now," Hertel said.

On Tuesday, the Monarchs trailed for nearly the entire game, but they never were down big.

A large part of their struggles came from inconsistent offense. TMP would go on a scoring spurt, but then immediately follow it with a cold-shooting stretch or careless passes.

The Monarchs finished with 20 turnovers and shot 32.6 percent from the field.

"We just couldn't make it happen (offensively)," Hertel said. "I don't know why. I don't think we were lethargic. I think we were ready to go. It was just hard."

Much of TMP's problems came from a lack of frontcourt scoring. TMP's guards combined for 26 points, while the forwards scored 15 -- and 11 of those came at the foul line.

"It just made it tough for us," Hertel said. "Our front line consistently has been the dominating part of our scoring through the year. When we don't get that, we are going to be behind the eight ball, and that's the way it felt the entire night tonight."

Minneapolis produced the bulk of its scoring through one player -- sophomore guard Josh Macy.

Macy has led Minneapolis all season, and he did so again Tuesday, scoring 25 points on 8-of-21 shooting.

Macy and his teammates repeatedly found ways to get him the ball near the basket or on the outside for an open jumper, and it tormented TMP all night. Macy took 21 shots, but he also shot 15 free throws, converting eight of them.

"He is in the process of becoming a good guard," Shupe said. "He's a very aggressive kid and a good athlete. We need him to do that for us."

TMP's guards carried the bulk of the scoring responsibilities. Sophomore Kameron Schmidt led the way with 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

Schmidt repeatedly forced himself into open spaces. One time in the second quarter, he did a couple spin moves and juked two Minneapolis defenders before making a jumper inside the lane.

Senior point guard Shane Zimmerman added eight points and four steals, and sophomore guard Max Megaffin made 2 of 2 3-pointers.

"We just couldn't get it going at the other positions, but our guards kept us in it and gave us a chance," Hertel said.

TMP only took the lead once, and it happened in the second quarter. Down 15-9, TMP went on an 8-1 run.

Junior forward Ryan Mayorga made a pair of free throws, and Zimmerman converted his steal into a fast-break layup on the other end. Shupe was then called for a technical, and Mayorga made another pair of free throws to tie it.

Junior forward Jordan Gottschalk scored in the paint a minute later to give TMP a 17-16 lead. However, the inconsistent offense continued, and the Monarchs scored just once after that in the second quarter, allowing Minneapolis to give itself a small cushion heading into halftime.

TMP kept in the game as Minneapolis never led by double figures. But TMP wasn't able to reclaim its lead.

"About the time we'd make a couple buckets in a row, we'd turn it over twice in a row and not even get a shot opportunity," Hertel said. "We were on and off, on and off."

After the game, Hertel went out of his way to thank his squad's four seniors, Zimmerman, Tanner Unrein, forward Kade Megaffin and forward Anthony Walters, for their contributions to the program.

"I really feel like these four seniors came to me as boys and are going to leave as solid young men," Hertel said.

Minneapolis, on Friday in Norton, will face top-seed Phillipsburg, an 88-41 winner against Russell in other first-round action Tuesday.