HUTCHINSON — Thomas More Prep-Marian High School girls’ basketball coach Rose McFarland doesn’t have all the answers.
She has no idea what it’s going to take to finally get her team to a championship game at the Class 3A state tournament at Hutchinson Sports Arena.
“If I knew… I’d be there already,” she joked.
As far as making it to the second round, though, the answer was simple Thursday evening.
Get to the free throw line as often as possible, and hit as many as they can.
That was the recipe for success Thursday as TMP dispatched of Wellsville, 55-40, to make the state semifinals for the third straight year, where the Monarchs will face No. 7 seed Hoyt-Royal Valley in Friday’s 3 p.m. semifinal round.
“Really tried to get after it,” TMP senior Kayla Vitztum said of Thursday’s victory.
And that might be putting it mildly. Vitztum herself made more free throws than Wellsville attempted as the Monarchs held a 34-8 advantage in free attempts in the first-round matchup.
“Wish we would have hit a few more free throws,” McFarland said, adding getting to the foul line that many times was definitely a plus.
The TMP coach was more focused on the fact her team was able to get out and defend a decent 3-point shooting team in Wellsville, which ended up just 4 of 21 from long range.
“We got to the shooters,” McFarland said. “They didn’t shoot as well from the 3 as I think they normally shoot.”
The other big factor? Vitztum and senior Savannah Yost dominated the rebounding war, each finishing with 12 boards.
All that helped TMP mount a double-digit lead by the early going of the third quarter and never look back.
It was a big of a sigh of relief after the Monarchs arrived early to watch their next opponent take out top-ranked and No. 2 seed Seneca-Nemaha Central 51-48.
“Seeing that upset we didn’t want it to happen to us,” said Vitztum, who added five assists to her 17-point, 12-rebound performance. “It was cool to se something like that happen, though.”
By the time Yost made it 36-21 with a jumper in the third quarter it became fairly clear the Monarchs weren’t about to let that happen. The lead nearly reached 20 by the midway point of the fourth quarter before Wellsville made a small run to cut it to 11.
Viztum said they aren’t going to take anything for granted. Even knowing they had a No. 7 seed waiting if they were able to get past Wellsville, anything can happen.
“When teams make it to state, that’s awesome,” the senior said. “Everyone’s earned the right to be here. We just have to come out to play against every single team.”
A win Friday would put the Monarchs in their first championship game since they won it all in 2010.
“We just have to continue to play hard,” McFarland said.