TMP boys at home
By KLINT SPILLER
Every game matters.
Thomas More Prep-Marian found that out in a positive way following the sub-state tournament seeding last week. The Monarchs (8-11) got the fourth seed, and more importantly a first-round home game.
TMP, the No. 4 seed, will face fifth seed Minneapolis (8-12) on Tuesday at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
"Earning a home game in the playoffs was a pretty nice deal and an accomplishment that I don't know if I realistically thought would happen (at the beginning of the season)," TMP coach Joe Hertel said.
With another loss, TMP would have taken to the road.
"It's so hard to play on the road," Hertel said. "It's just hard. That's something that hasn't changed in my 34 years of doing this."
The Monarchs have steadily improved this season with a team full of underclassmen.
Early on, TMP struggled to move the ball up the court and got embarrassed in its first two games of the Hays City Shoot-Out, losing 83-44 to Kearney (Neb.) and 53-27 to Great Bend.
"We were just, to put it real bluntly, we were just bad," Hertel said. "To be honest, I felt embarrassed because we didn't give Kearney or Great Bend any competition. It almost seemed like they would be better off staying home practicing. And yet we've come to this point."
The Monarchs started 1-5, but have gone 7-6 since then.
They might even be playing their best basketball of the season now with back-to-back wins against Plainville, 73-57 at home, and Colby, 51-47 on the road.
TMP has improved in nearly every category since the beginning of the season.
"It's been a nice steady climb," Hertel said.
The Monarchs have done it by playing well as a team. They don't have any all-stars, but they are getting contributions from throughout their lineup with seven players averaging between four to 11 points per game. Sophomore forward Cameron Fouts leads the squad with 10.2 points per game.
Hertel said he thinks his team has a shot at making a run at the sub-state tournament, but for now, he doesn't want to look beyond Tuesday.
"There have been two or three times where I've had the upper seed and got dumped in the first round," he said. "I don't take too much time looking beyond."
Minneapolis is similar to TMP in that it is young. The Lions have just two seniors and four juniors on the roster.
Hertel expects it to be a close game.
"I think it is going to go right down to the wire," Hertel said. "I've gotten more film on them than I've gotten on all the other teams put together."