Plainville coach Kate Lehman said her team has improved greatly during her first season, but the 10th-seeded Cardinals were no contest Monday for No. 2 Thomas More Prep-Marian in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Continent league tournament on Monday at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
The Monarchs advanced to the semifinals with a 77-40 victory. The margin could’ve been larger had the fourth quarter not been played with a continuous clock.
While TMP shot well inside and out, Lehman, a former All-American at Fort Hays State, felt the lopsided outcome reflected a team still figuring it out against a talented opponent.
“I think we gave ourselves the most problems,” Lehman said. “We knew they would press us, and I thought our press breaker was OK. That’s the toughest press we’ll see all year.”
The Monarchs’ pressure appeared to rattle the Cardinals’ composure early.
“We were focused and intense from the beginning,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said. “I think the press really seemed to get us started. We were making some mistakes on it, but they were hustling.”
TMP jumped out to a 13-4 lead after junior guard Megan Koenigsman hit a 3-pointer three minutes into the game. The Monarch offense clicked throughout the opening quarter.
Six different scorers totaled 25 points, and the home team led by 12 after one.
“We shot well tonight,” McFarland said. “Our outside shots were falling and led to some pretty good shots inside.”
Koenigsman hit a pair of 3-pointers and added 10 points during a 23-2 TMP run in the second quarter.
The Monarchs’ junior point guard scored 19 of her game-high 22 points in the first half, helping TMP to 57-21 halftime advantage. When she wasn’t knocking down open jumpers, the junior guard finished the fast break with layups.
The Monarch defense often produced points in transition but was more efficient than it has been thanks to better spacing, according to their coach.
“We were filling the lanes,” McFarland said. “Sometimes we run down the middle. Today, we were getting wide, passing the ball ahead and filling lanes. It paid off.”
Lehman added that rebounding and transition defense were among the Cardinals struggles Monday.
TMP extended its lead to 40 early in the third quarter following 3-pointers form Koenigsman and Melissa Pfeifer. Plainville seniors Shania Werner and Lyric Dewey combined to score 12 points in the final 4:29 of the period, and the Cardinals trailed by 38 and faced a running clock in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals won the fourth quarter 5-4, as TMP let some reserves get on the court. Lehman said her team has made noticeable improvement after starting the year 0-9. The Cardinals advanced to Monday’s game after picking up their first win of the season against Ellis, the tournament’s seven seed.
“We always build,” Lehman said. “I think our free throw percentage was the best it’s ever been. We did a really good job of looking for each other.”
Dewey led the Cardinals with 18 points, while Werner added eight.
Koenigsman was joined in double figures by three teammates. Kayla Vitztum finished with 18 points, while Pfeifer and Madyson Koerner added 10 apiece.
The Monarchs advance to play Stockton in Friday’s semifinals in Plainville. The game is the third of four MCL semifinal games on the day.
Hill City and Phillipsburg’s girls play in the first game at 3 p.m. A boys semifinal is slated to follow 15 minutes after the girls’ game with TMP and Stockton’s girls next in line.
Thomas More Prep-Marian 77, Plainville 40
Plainville (1-9) 13 8 14 5 — 40
TMP (8-2) 25 32 16 4 — 77
P — M. Dewey 6, L. Dewey 18, Werner 8, Hunt 2, Augustine 2, Myers 4
TMP — Pfeifer 10, Vitztum 18, M. Koenigsman 22, Koerner 10, Zimmerman 8, Wellbrock 2, Weber 1, A. Koenigsman 4, DeWitt 2.