The Thomas More Prep-Marian boys basketball team used a blistering start and a strong finish to earn a 66-49 win over Trego on Tuesday in the first round of the Mid-Continent League Tournament at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.

The Monarchs took control early with a 14-0 run and led 19-4 at the end of the first quarter. TMP held a 29-18 advantage at halftime but Trego whittled the deficit down to six midway through the third quarter.

However, TMP (8-1) stayed in control the rest of the way, maintaining a double-digit lead throughout the final frame. The Monarchs will play Hill City in the MCL Tourney semifinals on Friday night in Plainville.

"I was really pleased with how we finished," TMP coach Bill Meagher said. "Now, I wasn't pleased that we let it get back within six, but I was pleased with our poise. We could have crumbled, we could have felt sorry for ourselves, but the guys came together and slowly stretched (the lead) out. Trego did a lot of stuff down the stretch to (cut into the lead), and our guys just answered on the other side.

"This was a good game for us, one that we needed, and I was impressed with what we did to finish it."

Jackson Schulte scored a game-high 21 points for the Monarchs while Ryan Stoecklein added 17.

Schulte and Stoecklein each hit three 3-pointers, combining for five treys in the first half to help fuel the Monarchs' hot start.

"It was just like everything was hitting," Meagher said of TMP's early success. "You knew they would make adjustments and make it harder, and they did. That was kind of how the game went."

Carter Minson paced the Golden Eagles with 17 points.

The top two seeds in the MCL tourney were knocked off Tuesday, with Hill City beating No. 2-seeded Plainville, 62-57, and No. 8-seed Phillipsburg taking down top-seeded Hoxie, 42-40. No. 5-seeded Ellis beat No. 4-seed Norton, 50-44, setting up a meeting with Phillipsburg for the Railers in the semis.