The Thomas More Prep-Marian boys basketball team put on a shooting clinic in the second half against Hill City, enjoying a long stretch where the Monarchs literally could not miss.
But on a night where TMP knocked down 11 3-pointers, Bill Meagher was more impressed by what his team did on the defensive end.
TMP locked down the Ringnecks all night and turned the game into a blowout in the third quarter, rolling to a 68-26 victory in the Monarchs' home opener Friday night at Al Billinger Field House.
"I really liked our guys' effort on the defensive side," Meagher said. "It was their mission to take it to them and really make it hard on them all night long. I think they did a great job of that."
Ryan Stoecklein and Jackson Schulte keyed the Monarch's 3-point barrage, combining for nine trey
Schulte scored a game-high 16 points and hit four 3s, while Stoecklein, a senior guard who made his season debut Friday after missing the Hays City Shootout with an injury, scored 15 points on five 3s.
"I told (Stoecklein) in the locker room afterward that it is good to see him playing, after everything he's been through in trying to get healed up and having him sit on the sidelines and watch his buddies play," Meagher said. "It was great to see him out there and it was really nice to see him contribute."
TMP (3-1) led 10-4 after the first quarter and 32-16 at halftime before blitzing the Ringnecks with a 26-7 third quarter. The Monarchs scored the last 19 points of the third and extended the run to 24-0 in the fourth quarter.
"I was impressed with the guys' patience because we could have got a little frustrated when we weren't scoring in the first half," Meagher said. "I liked how they stuck with the plan and continued to push. And then finally the lid came off and we hit shots."
Schulte and Stoecklein combined for five 3-pointers in the last 3:40 of the third quarter. The fourth quarter was played under a running clock.
"We think that we got a number of good shooters and pretty good depth," Meagher said. "We also have Carson (Jacobs) inside that draws a lot of attention, and Mason (Robbins) and those guys. (Threes are) something we'll shoot a lot of, and hopefully we'll continue to make them like we did tonight."
Jacobs joined Schulte and Stoeklein in double figures with 11 points.
Meagher credited the defensive play of junior guard Lucas Lang.
"His quickness bothers guys that he's guarding," Meagher said. "Often times we'll put him on the guy that we're trying to take out, just because of his quickness. He can get in there, he moves really well laterally and just makes it really tough for that guy."
Michael Blanks led Hill City with 12 points.
TMP girls 52, Hill City 34
The Monarch girls used a strong second quarter to open up an 11-point halftime lead and remained in control in the second half, moving to 2-2 on the season.
Adell Riedel (four 3-pointers) and Emilee Lane led a balanced scoring attack with 12 points each for the Monarchs.
"I thought we stepped up, played pretty good," TMP coach Rose McFarland said. "Adele hit shots from the outside. We had some girls step it up on the inside, making layups. Kyleigh Allen got a couple steals and took it down for layups. It's real important that we have balanced scoring."
Hill City got the first bucket of the third quarter to cut the lead to nine but Riedel answered with a 3-pointer and TMP maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
"I thought we did a lot better job of taking care of the basketball," McFarland said. "We were looking down the floor; a couple passes just got away from us. I can handle that, especially this early in the season, because we're looking for that next person. I think we're running the floor; I'd like to see more of that, running in our transition game. But girls are stepping up, passing to each other, looking down the floor. I was really excited about that."
The Monarchs gave up more open looks than McFarland would have preferred, but she liked the Monarchs' scrappiness on defense.
"Our close outs need to get better," McFarland said. "But we were stepping in and drew a couple charges when they were driving to the hoop, so I was really pleased with that," she said.
TMP also got solid contributions from its bench.
"I thought Kallyn DeWitt stepped up big time tonight defensively," McFarland said. "Then offensively, there were a lot of times we passed it to her, they were doubling, and she was able to get it to that other post player or kick it out to a shooter. I thought she played really exceptional coming off the bench tonight, and that's only going to make our team stronger. We really need our bench and I thought they came in and gave us some really good minutes tonight."
Sasha Wasinger added eights points off the bench.
The TMP boys and girls will play host to Pratt on Tuesday.