Monarch girls playing well heading into sub-state
By KLINT SPILLER
In some ways, it's not so bad being the No. 8 seed at a sub-state tournament.
Thomas More Prep-Marian girls' basketball coach Rose McFarland said in a way, it's freeing. After all, her squad has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The Monarch girls' basketball team (6-13) will travel to No. 1 seed Russell (15-5) on Monday for the first round of its Class 3A Norton sub-state tournament. The tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
"The pressure is on (Russell)," McFarland said. "I don't feel like we are going to go in with a lot of pressure. We are going to try and do our best, and I hope it is good enough."
TMP had a rocky 1-10 start to the season, but has been solid down the final stretch, going 5-3.
In McFarland's eyes, TMP is playing its best basketball of the season.
"Even though we don't have as good of a record, I think we are as good as any team in (the sub-state)," she said.
Their record itself might be deceiving as well.
Though the Monarchs have lost 13 times, they've only been outscored this season by 116 points, or 6.1 points per game. That isn't too bad considering TMP has lost to some big schools and ranked schools, such as Kearney (Neb.), enrollment: 1,053; Great Bend, enrollment 984; Hillsboro, ranked No. 4 in Class 3A; and Holcomb, ranked No. 6 in Class 3A.
"At this point, records go out the window and everyone is even," McFarland said. "I think our sub-state is wide open."
TMP senior point guard Heather Ruder has been her squad's game changer. She averages 15.3 points per game, 4.4 steals and a 3.4/2.3 assist/turnover ratio, and at times, puts the weight of her team on her back.
Senior forward Jenna Schuckman has been the Monarchs' second-best player this season, averaging 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds, and senior guard Allison Pfeifer adds 4.8 points and grabbed 5.2 rebounds per game.
Russell's top scorers are senior forward Madison Beagley and junior forward Janna Schulte.
Beagley averages 16.3 points per game and Schulte has scored 9.4. Schulte also leads the team with 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, and Beagley averages 6.3 rebounds per game.
"They are a top seed for a reason," McFarland said. "They've played well this year."
TMP is the underdog, and McFarland hopes that makes her squad dangerous.
"I like our chances," McFarland said. "I think it is a great opportunity for our team. Our goal, year in and year out is to get to the championship. If you get that far, anything can happen, but we have to win this game first."