HUTCHINSON — Sure, there's bound to be disappointment when the season ends with two straight losses, as it did for the TMP-Marian boys at the Class 3A state tournament after a 57-49 loss to Perry-Lecompton in Saturday's consolation game.
But when few across the state even expected the Monarchs to even be in the field in Hutchinson, let alone around for the weekend, there's certainly a feeling of accomplishment to ease that disappointment.
"I would say probably nobody thought we would be playing on the last day of the season," TMP coach Bill Meagher said. "I believe that we believed all season long that we were capable of being that kind of team. We had to work through some glitches and there were things to improve on.
"But we always kind of saw that from this group and they did a great job of sticking through the season, working hard and putting themselves in this position."
TMP was in solid position to finish the season off with a win. After trailing Perry-Lecompton 31-26 at halftime of the third-place game, the Monarchs came out in the second half on fire.
Jackson Schulte sandwiched a pair of jumpers around a Jared Mayers' bucket inside the quick run put TMP in front for the first time after trailing by as much as nine twice in the first half. The Monarchs weren't quite done, either, as Grant Ginther converted a three-point play and Carson Jacobs followed with a jumper of his own to stretch the run to an 11-0 burst and put TMP up 37-31 midway through the third.
"We obviously started hitting some shots in the third quarter and our energy lifted," Meagher said.
TMP's run also seemed to ignite Perry, which after a timeout, roared to life. The Kaws cut the TMP lead to 41-39 on Colton Mallonee's layup in the final seconds of the period and rode the momentum to a big start to the fourth quarter.
Parker Stone scored five straight points to start the period and Blake Farmer, Mallonee, Conner Morgison and Connor Anderson all added buckets as the Kaws hit six straight shots to open the period to take a 52-47 lead with 2:06 to play.
In position to put TMP away, however, the Kaws missed consecutive one-and-one front ends and two free throws by the Monarchs made it a three-point game with 39 seconds left.
But Farmer hit two free throws and then blocked Jack Johnson's shot in the final 36 seconds and Perry sealed it with two late free throws from Morgison.
"We've had battles like that all year long," Perry coach Jared Swafford said. "We felt like as tough as our schedule was and we were able to find ways to win games. We kept telling them, 'We're good. You've put in the work and time and you've earned this.'
"We were able to stay locked in when things weren't going our way. Our kids have been resilient."
"We had some opportunities but needed some things to go our way," Meagher said. "It wasn't an energy or effort problem. We needed something good to bounce for us and unfortunately in a game sometimes that happens."
Mayers and Schulte each scored 11 points to lead TMP, which finished the season 14-13, while Ryan Karlin added 10. Anderson and Mallonee each led Perry with 12 and Farmer had 11.