A huge third quarter helped the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls basketball avoid what could have been a nerve-racking sub-state opener.

TMP led Hoisington by just two points at halftime but quickly took the drama out of the game in the second half, outscoring the Cardinals 16-4 in the third quarter en route to a 59-37 win on Monday night at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.

The No. 3-seeded Monarchs advanced to face No. 2 seed Russell in Thursday's Class 3A sub-state semifinal in Hoisington.

After trailing for most of the first half, TMP (16-5) grabbed the lead late in the second quarter and scored the first 10 points of the second half to take control.

“Offensively, we just kind settled down,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said. “We just played a lot better defense that (third) quarter and we rebounded better, didn’t give them second opportunities. We handled the ball better too and didn’t give them a chance to get down the floor before us; we were not getting back very well the first half."

Hoisington (5-14) had success breaking the Monarchs' press in the first half, but TMP buckled down defensively after halftime, surrendering just 12 points in the second half.

“Defensively, we were pressing and we weren’t rotating very good and they were getting some good looks at the basket (in the first half),” McFarland said. “Just wasn’t a very good first half. But we regrouped at halftime and played super second half.”

Senior Emily Schippers scored the first seven points of the third quarter to help ignite the Monarchs. She finished with a game-high 18.

McFarland credited her players for making the proper adjustments after the rough first half.

“Sitting (on the bench) they get to watch a little bit and see what’s going on on the floor,” McFarland said. “It kind of shows them what they need to do when they get back on the floor. I think they kind of relax a little bit and figure it out."

The Monarchs also got a lift out of their bench, including 10 points from sophomore Sasha Wasinger.

"The bench in the second quarter, when Adell (Riedel), Emily and Jillian (Lowe) had fouls and I had them sitting on the bench, I thought the girls that came in did an excellent job," McFarland said. "They handled the ball and they played pretty good defense.”

Keeley Wolf and Kelsi Dalton each had nine for Hoisington. 

Russell (17-4) took a 60-20 win over Lyons on Monday to move on and set up the meeting with the Monarchs. 

“Russell’s a good ball team,” McFarland said. “Tiffany Dortland’s a really good point guard; she can score, she can shoot the three, she can take it to the hole and she’s good about getting the ball to her teammates. We’re going to have to guard her and keep them off the glass.”

On the other side of the sub-state bracket, top-seeded Norton (19-2) beat Smoky Valley 39-24 to advance to Thursday's semifinal in Hoisington. The Bluejays will await the winner of Tuesday's quarterfinal between Southeast of Saline and Phillipsburg.