PHILLIPSBURG — All week long, like much of the state, the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls’ basketball team has been hit with a bit of illness.
The biggest impact, though, was not having standout Kayla Vitztum in practice the last three days as the senior missed school.
She returned to school Friday and gave it a go Friday night in the Monarchs’ matchup against Phillipsburg.
The senior played limited minutes in the Monarchs’ 53-36 victory. She didn’t put up her usually dominant performance, but did draw numerous double and triple teams.
That led to TMP’s outside game getting the job done all night. The Monarchs, fueled by juniors Aubrey Koenigsman and Jillian Lowe, and sophomore Adell Riedel, moved to 14-2 overall and 7-0 in the Mid-Continent League as the No. 3 ranked team in Class 3A.
“All the girls stepped up and did a good job,” Monarch coach Rose McFarland said.
That was especially true for Koenigsman and Riedel. The duo combined for 13 points in the second quarter as the Monarchs broke a 7-7 tie with a 17-0 run that started to put the game well out of reach for the Panthers (5-11, 2-6).
“You never have enough lead, but that really helped us,” McFarland said of the run, which helped TMP to a 29-11 lead by halftime. “We could sit Kayla more, rotate the girls in and out and give us some more rest.”
The Monarchs also keyed in defensively during the run, forcing Phillipsburg into 14 first-half turnovers while Koenigsman went to work at the 3-point line with two in the quarter. Riedel, who also was ill earlier in the week, hit a 3 and had seven points in the quarter.
“They were doubling us on the inside, and we hit some big shots from the outside,” McFarland said. “Tough to guard when you’ve got the inside and outside game going.”
Emily Schippers added a 3 in the third quarter as TMP maintained the lead. Phillipsburg went on to outscore the Monarchs in the fourth quarter, but the damage from the second and third was too much to overcome. Koenigsman had six more in the final frame to finish with a game-high 16. Lowe added 10 and Riedel finished her game with seven. In limited action, Vitztum finished with seven points, all coming in the first half.
“She played pretty good, considering the way she’s been feeling,” McFarland said. “The minutes she gave us were big minutes.”
Ashley Babcock and Kylie Solida each finished with seven points to lead Phillipsburg. The Panthers travel to Concordia on Tuesday. TMP-Marian is at home for the first time in a month when it plays host to Class 5A Great Bend on Tuesday at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.