HUTCHINSON -- It's not completely accurate to say Ryan Stoecklein was a forgotten man for the TMP-Marian boys this year.
In fact, the junior guard was supposed to be a key cog in the lineup, starting all three games at the Hays Shootout to start the season.
But when he tore two ligaments in his left ankle in the third game of the season and missed pretty much the rest of the regular season, Stoecklein became somewhat of a question mark -- so much so he wasn't listed in the state-tournament program.
Just in case people had forgotten about him, Stoecklein reminded them what he's capable of in Thursday's Class 3A state quarterfinal clash with No. 1 seed and undefeated Maur Hill-Mt. Academy. Stoecklein came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers in the opening half and scored all 14 of his points in the half as the Monarchs stunned Maur Hill 73-51.
"I just wanted to get out there and play," Stoecklein said. "I just tried my best and I'm glad we made it, and now we're going to the semis."
Under .500 heading into postseason play, TMP-Marian (14-11) is now one step away from playing for a state championship. In Friday's 8:15 p.m. semifinal, the Monarchs will take on Girard (20-3), which beat Kingman 57-40 in Thursday's last quarterfinal game.
Certainly nobody saw this run coming from the Monarchs. And TMP coach Bill Meagher said that played to his team's advantage as they controlled the game against Maur Hill from start to finish.
"My pregame talk was if you get beat, everybody shakes your hand and says, 'Good job, you made it there,'" Meagher said. "They're the ones with the pressure. If they get knocked off by us, it's a big deal."
That free-and-easy feeling certainly showed up in the Monarchs' offensive performance. TMP put up a season-high for points and did so in light's-out fashion.
The Monarchs hit 6 of 11 first-quarter shots and only got better from there. They upped their percentage to 70 percent in the second quarter and shot 75 percent in the second half, finishing the game a sizzling 22 of 33 from the field.
"Our guys are capable of doing that, but we haven't been hot like that this year," Meagher said. "It was just nice that it showed up tonight. We've struggled on the offensive side, but our defense has been there all year."
Nobody exemplified the Monarchs' hot night more than Stoecklein. He came off the bench and promptly buried his first 3-point attempt of the game as TMP hit 3 of 4 from beyond the arc in the first period to take a 15-11 lead.
Stoecklein added three more threes in the second quarter to finish his torried half with 14 points.
"He's capable of doing that, he's that kind of kid," Meagher said. "It's nice having him back."
Despite their hot hand, the Monarchs only led 34-31 at halftime and the lead was down to 39-37 after Maur Hill's Jack Kocour sank two free throws at the 3:52 mark of the third quarter. But as TMP had done all night, it came up with an answer as Ryan Karlin and Jack Johnson combined for nine points in an 11-1 run to close the third that staked the Monarchs to a 50-38 lead.
Five quick fourth-quarter points from the Ravens' Jack Caudle cut the deficit to nine with just under seven minutes to play before TMP put the game away. Karlin scored on a drive to put the Monarchs back up 12 and TMP closed it out by making its final 11 free throw attempts.
For the game, TMP was 20 of 24 at the line.
"We just never had an answer for anything," Maur Hill coach Tim Van Dyke said. "We played man, we went zone and they shot us out of it. They hit seven threes in the first half and that set the tone. We played good defense the entire year, but we just couldn't stop them."
Karlin finished with a team-high 17 points, going 3 of 4 beyond the arc. Stoecklein scored 14 and seven other Monarchs had at least four points.
Maur Hill finished 22-1 and were led by Zach Schwinn's 19 points, his three second-quarter 3-pointers keeping the Ravens in the game in the first half.