It didn’t take long for Jillian Lowe to make a statement.
In fact, the junior on the Thomas More Prep-Marian girls’ basketball team nearly single-handedly spurred the Monarchs during the first eight minutes of Tuesday’s non-conference game against Victoria at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
Lowe scored eight of her 10 points in the first period, helping the Monarchs out to a big lead en route to a 61-24 victory over the visiting young Knights.
“Defensively, she’s very good,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said about Lowe. “She was in there getting rebounds. She’s just really elevated her game.”
That was evident early, as Lowe caused problems up front on the Monarchs’ full-court press, forcing turnovers that resulted in layups.
And if she wasn’t creating turnovers, she was battling inside for rebounds and putbacks.
Lowe’s eight points in the first quarter boosted the Monarchs to a 20-6 lead after only eight minutes. The lead grew to 34-9 at halftime over the Knights.
“They’re good, and they’re experienced, too,” said Victoria coach Kristen Werth. “They’re pretty much a junior-senior team where we’re a freshman-sophomore team.”
On a night when senior standout Kayla Vitztum didn’t lead the team in scoring, Lowe and senior Savannah Yost carried the load.
Yost added all 10 of her points in the first half to help carry the Monarchs (4-1).
“I think that’s what’s going to make this team a good team down the stretch is improving offensively,” McFarland said. “Everyone always needs to play the tough defense, but we can’t just rely on one or two players. That’s what makes a team good, and I’m starting to see that more and more.”
The margin grew to 52-19 after the third quarter, and the fourth quarter was played under a running clock.
“We tried to focus on one aspect of our game,” McFarland said. “That’s what we can do is think about ourselves and what we can do to get better. We’ve got to continue boxing out, continue to get more rebounds, continue to focus on one aspect of our game and improve it.”
The Knights got five points each from senior Morgan Leiker and freshman Lydia Sander.
“I just don’t want that to be the motto for the rest of the season: We’re really young,” Werth said. “By the 10th game, we’ve already had experience. That can’t be the excuse anymore. We’ll get there. We’re playing different teams every night, which is something we have to get used to. Eventually we’ll get it figured out.”
TMP boys 60, Victoria 28
The size and athletic ability of seniors Michael Lager and Creighton Renz was too much for the Knights to overcome in the first half.
Lager and Renz combined for 14 of the team’s 16 points in the first quarter as TMP built a 10-point cushion after the period.
By then, the damage was done. Lager would finish with a game-high 14 points, and Renz added 12 as they controlled the paint.
“They rebounded offensively really well and gave us a quick double-digit lead,” TMP coach Joe Hertel said about his big guys. “We were a little slow … but once we got rolling, it began to flow like we want it to go.”
TMP (3-2) outscored the Knights 17-4 in the second quarter to lead 33-10 at the break.
“We had a game plan going in that we were going to slow them down because we know TMP likes to run, and they play it well,” said Victoria coach Dylan Dronberger. “They have a good game. It worked for a little bit, but then we decided we didn’t want to execute the game plan going forward, especially when you get down 10. … It didn’t take until the fourth quarter until there was a running clock and they decided they can play.”
The Monarchs put the game on ice in the third quarter, outscoring Victoria 23-5 — forcing a running clock in the fourth quarter.
“We have a couple guys that are out, and that affects the rotation with some guys coming in,” Dronberger said. “But right now, we’re dealing with a lot of confidence type of things. The ball doesn’t go in the hoop right away, and then we start to lose confidence and worry more about if it’s going to go in the next time. Then it just snowballs. That’s kind of where we’re at at the moment. It’s about gaining that confidence every time they shoot that they’ll go in. Coach and I preach that to them all the time.”
Senior Luke Ruder added 11 points for the Monarchs, and Victoria was paced by junior Caden Oberle with 10.
The Monarch will be on the road Friday as they return to Mid-Continent League play at Oakley.