Even with things going relatively smoothly for the Ellis girls on Tuesday night against Thomas More Prep-Marian, Railers' coach Elle Stein figured a run from the host Monarchs was inevitable.
"At halftime, we told them, 'This is their home court, they're going to make a run at some point. Just weather the storm,'" Stein said.
The Railers did just that, withstanding a big third quarter from TMP before finishing strong in the final frame to take a 52-46 win at Al Billinger Fieldhouse, snapping TMP's 37-game Mid-Continent League regular-season winning streak dating back to the 2015-16 season.
Ellis (5-2, 1-1 MCL) led by six at halftime and pushed the lead to 10 early in the third quarter before the Monarchs made their push. TMP closed the frame on a 9-0 run to take a 37-34 lead and held a five-point lead with six minutes left before getting outscored 18-7 the rest of the way.
Grace Eck hit a 3-pointer to put the Railers in front by a point with 4 minutes left, and Ellis never relinquished the lead. Down three, the Monarchs (3-4, 2-1 MCL) turned the ball over with 56 seconds left and Ellis iced it at the free-throw line.
"TMP, throughout the years, they're always very good," Stein said. "They have good players. I respect their coaches. So to beat them is a very good win for us."
Emily Eck led Ellis with 14 points while Grace Eck and Abigail North added 12 and 11, respectively. Rylee Werth chipped in nine.
"I'm very happy with how they all played," Stein said of her team. "One of the things we talked about after the game was how we all worked together and how it just wasn't one person scoring all these points. It was a very good group effort."
Adell Riedel, who led all scorers with 17 points, helped get the Monarchs going with 10 points in the third quarter.
"We had a good stretch there where I thought things were coming together," TMP coach Rose McFarland said. "We were getting a few steals and taking it down and getting a few open looks. I just hate for us to wait that long to start doing those things. We've got to come out more focused."
McFarland said the Monarchs also struggled to take advantage of quality looks in the final frame.
"We just didn't finish our layups," she said. "I thought we could have stretched it out a little bit, but they got a couple of threes. We lost some of their guards on the outside, gave them some open looks and they hit a couple of threes."
Stein said a big area of improvement for the Railers has been handling pressure.
"Last year we struggled a lot with presses," Stein said. "Now we have a little more experience under our belt and can handle it a little bit better. We still tried to throw it away some, but we did much better than we have in the past."
"I thought they handled the pressure pretty well," McFarland said. "Last year we got a lot of turnovers against them on the press. I thought they handled themselves real well. And defensively they've become better."
The Railers also hurt the Monarchs on the boards.
"We did not rebound," McFarland said. "We gave them, I think, 19 offensive rebounds, which is way too many."
Grace and Emily Eck combined for 22 points in the second half after the two were held to four points in the first half.
"We were really focusing on Grace early," McFarland said. "Second half we went to a matchup zone and it gave her more opportunities."
Ellis was 13 of 18 from the foul line while TMP 16 of 28.
"One of the biggest differences in the game was free-throw shooting," McFarland said.
TMP will look to bounce back against Sacred Heart on Friday at TMP, while Ellis will play host to Hill City next Friday.