Match up Tuesday’s 62-43 win by the Thomas More Prep-Marian boys’ basketball team against Great Bend with both teams’ record and it might just result in a type of ‘well duh’ moment.
But Monarch coach Joe Hertel sees things a little differently.
While his team pulled away after a 29-29 halftime tie for its 12th victory of the season, it was far from easy at Al Billinger Fieldhouse. And the longtime coach knows it came against a quality Class 5A program in the Panthers.
“I think the first half kind of proved that,” Hertel said. “It was a hard-fought, very physical, pretty decently played first half — particularly defensively.”
Great Bend, which fell to 3-14 with the loss, gave the Monarchs all they could handle in TMP’s first time inside the fieldhouse in nearly a month. The Panthers led 18-12 after one quarter, and kept the Monarchs at bay until the final two minutes of the first half.
The Monarchs threw a zone defense in the mix in the first half and Great Bend was able to hit some outside shots to sustain a lead that lasted until Monarch senior Luke Ruder hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the second quarter to tie things up at 29.
That’s when things started looking up for TMP. Like the Monarchs frequently do, TMP started to wear down the visitors in the second half.
“I like what we did defensively in the second half,” Hertel said. “That was a sign of No. 1 our conditioning. I think Great Bend really ran out of gas.”
The Panthers led briefly in the third quarter, but once the Monarchs got the lead just a minute later, the Monarchs never trailed again.
“We tend to play an uptempo pace and it worked in our favor tonight.”
The Monarchs also put forth a balanced effort in the victory with a more balanced shot selection, both aspects Hertel wanted to see after his team dropped a game Friday at Class 3A ranked No. 1 Phillipsburg.
“I just felt like we spread it around tonight really nicely,” Hertel said. “We wanted to attack in mid-range more. The last three or four games we battled hard and we get some things inside that are hard-fought.
“But it seems like other than that we just seem to concede to the long ball.”
The Monarchs weren’t without their 3s, though. Senior David McFarland hit two in the third quarter as he put up a game-high 17 points. Ruder had two triples to finish with eight. But everything else came either inside or on the mid-range jumper Hertel wanted to see. Senior Creighton Renz finished with 16 points and senior Michael Lager 11.
“(The balanced scoring) takes the pressure off a guy that you expect to score a certain amount per game,” Hertel said.
Great Bend was led by 17 points for sophomore Alex Schremmer, who hit three 3s.
While TMP hadn’t played at home in nearly a month, the Monarchs only have one home date left. The Monarchs will play host to Stockton on Friday for senior night.