One thing Bill Meagher pointed out was that by the end of the game Friday night, his Thomas More Prep-Marian boys’ basketball team was better than it was when the night started.

Unfortunately for the Monarch coach and his club, it just wasn’t quite as good as visiting Phillipsburg, the No. 4 ranked team in Class 3A.

But the Monarchs — even after falling in a big hole — made it interesting in the second half, not to mention kept standout Trey Sides and the Panthers from running out of the gym.

It just wasn’t enough for TMP in a 61-50 loss at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.

“There were two or three places there where they about ran us out of the gym,” Meagher said of the Panthers, who moved to 15-2 with the victory. “We were able to regroup back into the game.”

The Monarchs fell behind big early, handing Phillipsburg a 7-0 start. Trey Sides hit two first-quarter 3-pointers and by the end of that opening frame, the Panthers mounted a double-digit lead.

Much like Phillipsburg has done in its past few seasons, the Panthers kept coming hard to the basket, and running the floor step-for-step with a Monarch team that likes to play in a similar fashion.

“I was really impressed with the way they get up and down the floor,” Meagher said of Phillipsburg, which recorded its 11th straight victory.

For TMP, it was just a matter of figuring out the Monarchs could defend it.

“They just do such an impressive job,” Meagher said. “We didn’t do a good job of guarding it in the first quarter.”

Once it happened, TMP (9-8) mounted a big run at the end of the second quarter. Jackson Schulte hit a 3 as part of a 9-0 run only broken up by a Trey Sides buzzer-beater that had the Panthers up 31-24 at halftime.

The Monarchs carried that momentum into the third quarter, it just wasn’t enough to get over the hump. Lucas Lang hit a 3-pointer that cut it to a one-point game by the 5 minute, 10 second mark of the third quarter.

It was short-lived. With some hot shooting by Ty Sides, Phillipsburg was back in business. He had 10 third-quarter points (two 3s) and the Panthers stretched the lead back to 10 by the end of the quarter.

“It’s really hard when you’re playing from behind. You just never get a chance to rest of anything like that,” Meagher said. “You’re constantly just going full speed.

“Our guys wanted to fight in the fourth quarter, but I think we were just gassed by that point.”

That didn’t stop the Monarchs’ Jared Mayers from having a field day in the paint, recording block after block go to along with his team-high 13 points.

For the Panthers, it was a typical night. Trey Sides led the way with 19 points, 13 coming in the first half. Ty Sides had 16, all but three coming in the second half. Austin Miller finished with eight, Natan Moon seven and Jonathan Hunnacutt six.

TMP will travel to Great Bend on Tuesday. Phillipsburg will return home to face Stockton.

TMP girls 54, Phillipsburg 34

Emilee Lane picked a good night for a breakout performance for the TMP-Marian girls’ team. The freshman got the Monarchs off to a hot start Friday night as TMP picked up its fourth straight victory.

Lane scored the game’s first six points, then stretched the Monarchs’ lead to 8-3 on her own as TMP jumped out early and never really looked back.

However, Phillipsburg (10-8) did threaten on a few occasions. Alexi Beach caught a hot hand in the second quarter with a pair of 3s, and had 10 of her game-high 24 points in the frame to pull the Panthers within 26-17. That included a bomb to beat the buzzer heading into the locker room.

It appeared that hot shooting would continue in the second half. The Panthers got three 3s — two from beach and another from Kylie Solida — and Phillipsburg made it a six-point game with 5:16 left in the third. The scoring, though, went cold for both squads as only six more points — all by TMP — were scored in the final 5:16 of the quarter.

The Monarchs (12-4) stretched that lead to as much as 22 in the fourth quarter, and eventually grabbed the 20-point victory.

Lane finished with 14 points, while Kyleigh Allen added 12 points for TMP. Megan Hamel had 10.