TMP guts out 400th win for coach Hertel
By NICK McQUEEN
It took nearly the entire game Tuesday night for the Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' basketball team to find its stride against a Colby team that has struggled through a two-win season.
Better late than never, as the Monarchs were able to hand their longtime head coach a gift on senior night at the Hays Middle School gym.
TMP never gained more than a two-point lead until midway through the fourth quarter, but outlasted Colby, 60-55, for Hertel's 400th career victory in 29 seasons at the school.
"I feel lucky, just plain lucky to have gotten out of Hays Middle School today with a 'W,' " Hertel said.
Luck or not, TMP managed to move to 10-9 with one regular-season game left Thursday before playing host to a Class 3A sub-state first-round game Monday. Sub-state pairings will be announced today, and with Tuesday's win, TMP was assured of the third seed in the Hoisington sub-state.
Hertel just hopes his team gets back to playing better next week than it did Tuesday, especially early in the game against a team the Monarchs beat by 21 points early in the season.
"It took us a long time to recover from a bad beginning," Hertel said. "We needed the whole game to finally overcome.
"I'm not really happy with our play, but I'm happy with the way we continued to battle and didn't just cave, fall over, and give it to them."
Colby (2-17) hasn't won a game since the Eagles beat Norton on Feb. 10, a string of four straight losses, but came out hot and rode all the momentum in the first half. Senior Luke Cox scored seven first-quarter points, and Colby produced a 12-4 run to take a five-point lead early. The Monarchs went deep to the bench early just to find a way to stay in the game.
"Everything was hard," Hertel said. "Offense was rough, just not good at times, and I'm really disappointed in our first-half defense.
"That was probably as lackluster effort defensively as we've had the whole year."
TMP managed a pair of one-point leads in the second quarter, but Colby had a 6-0 run to stave off momentum, then hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to stretch a narrow lead back to four at the break.
Junior Austin Russ launched it from well beyond the arc and banked it in for a 32-28 Colby lead.
Colby's offense was silenced a little in the second half, as TMP came out with a quick 3-pointer by sophomore Jared Vitztum, and a layup by senior Ryan Mayorga to take another brief one-point lead, but Colby eventually led by six again near the end of the third quarter.
"We're a decent club because of what we get done on the defensive end," Hertel said, referring to the first half. "We give up 32 points to a two-win team, things aren't going right."
Things started going right at the end of the third when Vitztum fought for an offensive rebound, put it back, was fouled and converted on the 3-point play to pull TMP within three heading to the fourth. Then after Colby had taken back the lead twice, Vitztum put the Monarchs back up for good with his second trey of the game.
"He's growing up and growing up fast, and he needed to (tonight)," Hertel said. "It was hard to find the right personnel tonight. Some of us just weren't very good, and we had to go deep to the bench to find some combinations that would allow us to hang in and catch up."
From the 54-52 lead, TMP outscored Colby 6-3 in the closing minutes, going 6 of 8 at the free-throw line.
Vitztum ended with 11 points, while senior Jordan Gottschalk had 12, including 6 of 8 at the foul line. Mayorga scored 12 as well, going 4 of 6 from the floor and 4 of 5 at the stripe. Cox led Colby with 18 points, but only scored three in the second half.
Hertel was pleased with the win, and the milestone, but would have much rather seen his team play better as the postseason nears.
"All it says is I've managed to hang in this business a pretty long time," Hertel said. "I'm more interested in the 'W' we want to get Thursday night than I am in the 400."
TMP is the only team in its eight-team sub-state with a game remaining on the schedule as it will travel to Hutchinson-Trinity on Thursday.
Colby girls jump out early, drop TMP
Much like the TMP girls, Colby, under first-year coach Ryan Becker, has experienced a roller-coaster type season. After a 47-39 win against the Monarchs Tuesday, Colby is on a three-game win streak. Prior to that, the Eagles had lost five straight.
Tuesday's matchup was nearly identical to when Colby beat TMP 45-42 in overtime in the Hays City Shootout at the beginning of the season.
"We made plays at the end when we had to," Becker said. "We boarded when we had to. We had rebounding concerns, because we know how scrappy Coach McFarland has her teams ready to play."
What TMP lacked early, though, was offense. Colby (9-10) started the game with a 12-3 first quarter. Senior Hailegh Shull had seven points in that stretch. The Monarchs were playing catch-up all night.
"It just didn't look like we had as much intensity or as much energy out there tonight as we've been playing with in the last week," Monarch coach Rose McFarland said.
The Monarchs did find a boost in back-to-back 3s from freshman Madyson Koerner to tie it at 15, but Colby sophomore Brenly Terrell quickly silenced the momentum with a 3 of her own just before halftime, giving the Eagles had an 18-15 lead.
Then Colby opened the second half on a 12-2 run, again with Shull leading the way with four points in the run.
"I think we've done this quite a bit this year," McFarland said. "We'll never give up. It looked like we had some good looks, we created turnovers, but they just stopped the momentum."
TMP (7-12) battled back to tie it at 32 in the fourth, but Colby again had an answer, this time from sophomore Laura Stephens.
"We had some guards step up," Becker said. "They always do defenively, but they scored some points for us tonight, which was big."
Then Colby hit 4 of 6 free throws in the final 1:30 to seal the win.
Shull led the way with 14 points and 12 rebounds (5 offensive) for Colby. Three Monarchs reached double figures with freshman Megan Koenigsman at 12, senior Samantha Younie 10, and Koerner 11.
The loss left TMP as the eighth seed in its Class 3A sub-state. The Monarchs will travel to Phillipsburg on Tuesday, but first will wrap up the regular season with a 6 p.m. game Thursday at Hutchinson-Trinity.
TMP 60, Colby 55
Cameron Brown 5-10 4-9 14, Luke Cox 6-7 4-6 18, Schwanke 1-5 0-0 2, Giersch 0-2 0-0 0, Marc Bremenkamp 3-6 4-4 10, Au. Ross 3-6 2-2 9, Ash Russ 0-0 0-1 0, Comfort 1-3 0-0 2, Whitfield 0-1 0-0 0. Totals -- 19-40 14-22 55.
Ryan Mayorga 4-6 4-5 12, Jordan Gottschalk 3-9 6-8 12, Jared Vitztum 3-4 3-5 11, Schmidt 3-10 1-1 9, Megaffin 3-7 1-3 7, Hoffamn 2-3 3-4 7 Fouts 0-3 0-0 0, Schumacher 0-0 1-2 1, Schibi 0-1 1-2 1, Flax 0-1 0-0 0. Totals -- 18-44 20-30 60.
Colby 17 15 14 9 -- 55
TMP 15 13 15 17 -- 60
3-point goals -- Colby 3-7 (Brown 0-1, Cox 2-2, Bremenkamp 0-1, Comfort 0-1); TMP 4-8 (Schmidt 2-3, Megaffin 0-2, Vitztum 2-3). Total fouls -- Colby 23, TMP 18. Fouled out -- none.
Rebounds -- Colby 27 (Cox 8); TMP 29 (Mayorgan 6, Megaffin 6). Turnovers -- Colby 15, TMP 13.
Colby 47, TMP 39
Haileigh Shull 5-12 4-5 14, Terrell 2-9 0-0 5, Stephens 3-9 0-0 6, McKee 2-3 1-2 5, Strange 2-5 0-0 4, Bange 3-3 1-2 4, Giebler 1-4 0-0 2, Schindler 1-2 0-0 2, Sloan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals -- 19-47 6-9 47
Megan Koenigsman 3-6 3-4 12, Samantha Younie 5-11 0-1 10, Madysen Koerner 4-14 1-2 11, Gottschalk 0-0 4-4 4, Younie 0-3 0-0 0, Pfeifer 0-6 1-3 1, Zimmerman 0-0 1- 1, Wellbrock 0-2 0-0 0. Totals -- 12-42 10-16 39.
Colby 11 7 10 9 -- 47
TMP 3 12 7 17 -- 39
3-point goals -- Colby 3-8 (Terrell 0-3, Shull 0-2, Bange 2-2, Giebler 0-1); TMP 5-20 (T. Younie 0-1, Koenigsman 3-5, Pfeifer 0-4, Koerner 2-10). Total fouls -- Colby 12, TMP 9.
Rebounds -- Colby 25 (Shull 12); TMP 26 (Pfeifer 7).