HUTCHINSON — A third straight trip to the final day of the Class 3A state tournament resulted in a season-ending loss Saturday for the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls’ basketball team.
After letting a late lead slip away Friday in a semifinal setback, the Monarchs couldn’t bounce back Saturday, falling 66-52 to Haven in the third-place game at Hutchinson Sports Arena.
A long scoring drought in the second quarter was the difference.
After trailing by four early, Haven outscored TMP 15-6 in the second frame, taking a big halftime advantage and only was threatened once as the Wildcats moved to 21-4 with the third-place trophy. TMP ended its season 21-4. It was the first time the last three years the season ended with a loss.
“In the second quarter, we just didn’t score for three, four, five, maybe six minutes,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said. “Coming out at halftime, thought if we could just get it back within five.”
That happened. It just wasn’t enough.
The Wildcats hit six first-half 3-pointers, three coming from guard Emmiley Hendrixson, as Haven built up a 28-17 lead by intermission.
TMP got 10 points inside from Kayla Vitztum, but those points were hard-earned as Haven took a physical approach to the senior forward.
“Very physical game inside,” McFarland said. “We pulled down some rebounds, but it was just so tough inside.”
In the third quarter, TMP did make a run. A pair of free throws by Vitztum made it a six-point game, then Aubrey Koenigsman buried a 3-pointer to make it 35-34 with just less than two minutes to play in the third. That came after the Monarchs trailed by 14 at the 6:05 mark.
But Haven went on a 5-0 run and quickly was back up by eight, and the Monarchs never could recover. Haven was coming off a 43-38 loss to Garden Plain the night before while the Monarchs dropped a 54-52 overtime game to No. 7 seed Royal Valley. In that game, the Monarchs led late before the Panthers got a 3 to tie it up and send it to an extra session.
After Haven got back up by eight, TMP again narrowed it to three, but that’s as close as it got.
“They shot really well,” McFarland said of Haven, which ended with the six 3s and a 43-percent field goal game.
TMP, on the other hand, hit just 27 percent of its shots, with 22 points coming at the free throw line. Vitztum had 15 of those at the stripe and finished her standout career with a game-high 29 points. Koenigsman, who also has been on varsity throughout her career, had 11 points in her final game.
Haven was led by Hendrixson’s 23 points, one of three Wildcats in double figures.