TMP boys rally, fall short against Hoisington
By TYLER PARKS
Throughout the season, a young Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' basketball team has continued to show improvement.
Monarch coach Joe Hertel saw several positives as his team rallied from a big first-half deficit against MCAA foe Hoisington on Thursday night at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
The second-half effort just wasn't enough in a 73-60 loss.
The Monarchs (4-9, 1-2) outscored the Cardinals 40-34 after the break.
"We have a lot of reason to be optimistic by what we saw in the second half," Hertel said.
Hoisington (11-2, 3-0 MCAA) controlled the first half, though, forcing 14 turnovers and holding the Monarchs to 35 percent shooting from the field. The Cardinals led 39-20 at intermission.
"I was real impressed with the way we started the game tonight. We had an eight-point lead then extended it to 19," Cardinal coach Kyle Haxton said. "We went in at half and came out and got sloppy with the basketball in the second half."
TMP committed 13 fouls in the first half, and the Cardinals took advantage of that making 16 of their 22 free throw attempts.
"I was really excited about our free throw shooting in the first half," Haxton said. "We didn't close it out, though. I know their legs were tired, but that is when you have to make them."
Hoisington finished 27 of 40 from the free throw line as fouls were an issue for TMP. Three of the Monarchs' starters picked up their fourth foul early in the third quarter.
Shane Zimmerman fouled out out late in the fourth, and both Ryan Mayorga and Jordan Gottschalk ended with four.
"We almost managed to make it to the end before we lost Shane late," Hertel said. "That is another real plus, the fact that we had to extend and put forth an aggressive effort defensively after the half with all the guys in foul trouble."
Even in foul trouble no one saw a significant difference in usual playing time.
"The fact that they managed to stay in the game that long shows great self-discipline on the defensive end," Hertel said.
Hoisington's 6-foot-9 senior Cody Stetler led the charge for the Cardinals with career-high 30 points (tie) and 12 rebounds.
"Cody was unstoppable in the paint tonight," Haxton said. "When we got it to him early there was no stopping him, after they double-teamed him he was still found a way to score."
Stetler was often able to catch the Monarchs out of position and draw a foul as they tried to recover. He scored eight points on free throws alone on 13 attempts.
"He is a force to reckon with inside and we know that is our strength and so does every team we play," Haxton said.
Despite the players being six or seven inches shorter than Stetler, Hertel ran a man-to-man defense the whole game.
"I've been in this game long enough to know that there are people saying we should have packed a zone in on him." Hertel said, "But, then the other four together score just as much as he did."
Hertel didn't want to change the way the team has been playing for one guy one particular team.
"He hurt us but we held other people down that would have scored if we packed a zone in on him, I don't think there would be a difference in the cumulative score. For us to suddenly go away from what we know would have been counterproductive," Hertel said.
Stetler was averaging 19 points per game coming in and the 30 points was a first this season.
"I'm impressed with him, he is a much improved player from last year, a lot more aggressive," Hertel said. "He has huge strength and size and a good touch inside and they used him well."
Sophomore Kameron Schmidt led the Monarchs to a strong push with 12 of his 14 points in the final quarter.
"That is not a surprise to me. Kameron has always been able to score and put the ball on the floor and make a mid-range jumper and hit a three ball here and there," Hertel said.
The Monarchs outscored the Cardinals 25-20 and forced seven turnovers in the final quarter.
"What has allowed us to progress and get better this season is that we play pressure defense," Hertel said. "My kids have a lot of pride, I don't think they like getting beat especially by Hoisington at home.
"It was neat to see them come out of a shell," he added. "I think we were scared to get close to the basket on offense early in the game."
TMP will return to action next Tuesday at home against the Ellinwood (5-8).