HILL CITY — The size and skill of the Thomas More Prep-Marian post players proved to be too much for the Hill City girls’ basketball team Friday night.
Junior Kayla Vitztum and senior Katelyn Zimmerman, TMP’s primary post players on the night, were the only two players to reach double figures in the Monarchs’ 47-36 win at Hill City High School.
Using that size advantage was a point of emphasis for the Monarchs (3-1) heading into the game.
“That’s what we wanted to do, get the ball inside. I thought they did a good job in there too,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said. “We missed some shots, missed some free throws, but that happens some times. I thought we did a pretty good job of looking for those two. “
“We knew that if we really worked the ball and looked inside, we would get some easy shots,” Vitztum added.
The other focus was keeping junior Conner Keith and the other Ringneck shooters in check.
“We always know Hill City is going to be a really good team,” Vitztum said. “We knew we had to jump out on them and just really hedge on the screens and guard their really good 3-point shooters.”
The Monarchs were the ones hitting from deep early.
Senior guard Megan Koenigsman hit a pair of triples that helped the Monarchs open an 8-2 lead. Vitztum’s second bucket of the first quarter made it 11-6 before a Shaylin Russell jumper cut the Monarchs’ lead to three after the opening eight minutes.
Junior Ellie Keener hit the Ringnecks’ first 3-pointer early in the second quarter before buckets from Vitztum and Zimmerman pushed the TMP lead to 10 midway through the second quarter.
Lauren Jones added Hill City’s second 3-pointer later in the quarter, but Zimmerman and Vitztum answered with scores for an 11-point halftime lead.
TMP was able to hold Keith scoreless in the first half, while Zimmerman and Vitztum combined for 17 points.
“I thought defensively we played pretty good, did a good job on their shooters and didn’t give up a lot of 3-pointers,” McFarland said.
Keith got on the board to start the third quarter, and Jones followed with a basket to cut the Monarch lead to seven. Knowing the Ringnecks have an ability to score in bunches, the TMP coach was quick to call a timeout 90 seconds after the start of the second half.
“I thought we came out a little flat,” McFarland said. “They’re a team that can score a lot of points in a hurry. I just didn’t want them to cut into our lead too much.”
Once again, Zimmerman and Vitztum provided an answer with consecutive scores to give the visitors a double-digit advantage once again.
Hill City (1-1) turned to full-court pressure midway through the third quarter, but TMP seemed to handle it well enough to take a 10-point lead to the fourth.
“We thought about pressing at the beginning,” Hill City coach Linda Nighswonger said. “We figured they expected us to press, so we were going to put it on later.”
Keith found her range for deep, drilling a deep 3-pointer that made it 40-31 with just over three minutes to play.
TMP senior Madyson Koerner answered with a 3 of her own before Keith hit her second triple to again make it a nine-point contest.
“I didn’t think we got shook up,” McFarland said. “We knew they were going to hit 3s.”
A pair of Koenigsman free throws capped the scoring before Aubrey Koenigsman, a TMP junior, blocked a pair of Keith shots in the final minute.
Vitztum led all scorers with 19 points, while Zimmerman finished with 10.
“We’re not very big, and we’re trying to front the post as they make that cut. Sometimes we got there, and sometimes we didn’t,” Nighswonger said. “They did a good job of taking advantage.”
Keener and Russell scored nine points apiece for the Ringecks in defeat.
Hill City boys 59, TMP 53
Point guard Zech Wilson put the Hill City boys’ basketball team on his back and carried it to victory Friday night.
Coming off a 29-point performance in the Ringnecks’ (2-0) season-opening win against Stockton where he also recorded 17 rebounds, six assists and five steals, he upped the point total to 31 and grabbed 17 rebounds in a win over Thomas More Prep-Marian (1-3) Friday.
Wilson scored four points in the first quarter and helped Hill City out to a 12-5 lead after one. A pull-up 3-pointer helped him get going in the second quarter and he went to the locker room with 14 points, as Hill City led 31-18.
“When I hit a shot like that, it gets me confident to do better things,” Wilson said. “That shot was kinda big for me.”
Wilson scored all seven of Hill City’s points in the third quarter, as TMP cut the gap to eight to start the fourth quarter.
Transition layups from Luke Ruder and Hayden Lowe made it a four-point game before Hill City coach Keith Riley called for time. From there, Wilson did whatever he needed to preserve a victory.
“I was just trying to stay confident and have the team execute and stay aggressive, because TMP, they’ll get on you,” Wilson said. “They’re aggressive, so you just want to stay aggressive against them.”
He scored out of the timeout before grabbing a defensive rebound and assisting Everett Brandyberry. He corralled another TMP miss and hit a free throw before finding Bradyberry behind the 3-point line for a 12-point Hill City lead.
Tate Garcia and Creighton Renz got the Monarchs within five once again, but Wilson answered with a three-point play.
Wilson finished with 31 points, while Brandyberry added 15.
Renz paced TMP with 11 points, while David McFarland and Ryan Karlin added eight apiece.
Hill City 59, Thomas More Prep-Marian 53
TMP 5 13 12 23 — 53
HC 12 19 7 21 — 59
TMP — McFarland 8, Ruder 7, Lowe 6, Garcia 2, Werth 4, Karlin 8, Renz 11, Lager 7.
Thomas More Prep-Marian 47, Hill City 36
TMP 11 15 10 11 — 47
HC 8 7 11 10 — 36
TMP — Vitztum 19, Zimmerman 10, M. Koenigsman 9, Koerner 7, Wellbrock 2.
HC — Keener 9, Russell 9, Keith 8, Jones 5, Kennedy 5.