In another battle of state-ranked teams, the Thomas More Prep-Marian boys played Great Bend on Tuesday in a matchup at Al Billinger Fieldhouse. The visiting Panthers, ranked No. 9 in Class 5A, won in convincing fashion, 80-68. TMP, ranked seventh in Class 3A, also lost to Salina-Sacred Heart, No. 2 in Class 2A, on Saturday.
TMP coach Bill Meagher said his players had trouble against Great Bend’s quickness and physicality in the first half, when the Monarchs had 13 of their 20 turnovers.
"It took us a while to get adjusted," he said. "Besides turning the ball over, I thought the guys competed pretty hard."
Senior point guard Alex Schremmer scored a game-high 31 points for Great Bend. On the other end, the Panthers’ tight defense shut down Jackson Schulte, the Monarchs’ top scorer, in the first half. Schulte didn’t get a shot off until he scored on a basket inside with less than a minute left before halftime.
"I definitely think they were trying to take him out" of the offense, Meagher said. "That’s something we’ve got to work with. … We’ve got to keep him aggressive, get him screens to get him open."
Great Bend led 19-11 after the first eight minutes and 37-27 at intermission. The Panthers led by 15 midway through the third before taking a 55-39 advantage heading into the fourth. The Monarchs could never get closer than 10 points, at 64-54 on senior guard Brady Kreutzer’s bucket with 3:31 left, and again with his 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining.
After Schremmer’s 31, Great Bend got 15 points from senior Dalton Miller and 10 from senior Peyton Duvall as the Panthers (15-4) won their ninth straight.
Schulte scored a dozen in the second half to finish with a team-high 14 points for TMP (13-4). Three Monarchs – seniors Carson Jacobs and Ryan Stoecklein and junior Lucas Lang – each finished with 13 points.
"Everybody’s hurt because we lost, but I could also tell this was a fun basketball game for them," Meagher said.
The Monarchs have had a rough stretch, but against quality opponents.
"Three out of the last four games doesn’t look good, but I think the team we had on the court tonight was better than the team we’ve seen the last couple games," Meagher said.
GREAT BEND GIRLS 42, TMP 38
After a low-scoring first half, Great Bend was the first team to put some baskets together in the second half, and the Panthers held off a TMP rally for the victory.
TMP led 6-0 midway through the first quarter and finished the period leading 8-6. Both teams’ offenses had trouble scoring in the second quarter. The Panthers scored the period’s only points on a driving layup by senior guard Jenna Mauler eight seconds before halftime. The teams combined to shoot 0 for 19 in the quarter until Mauler’s basket tied the game at 8-8.
"We said keep shooting, because the shots are going to fall," TMP coach Rose McFarland said.
Mauler led the charge in the third quarter, giving the Panthers a boost with her 3-point shooting. TMP scored the period’s first five points for a 13-8 lead, but after the Panthers got two free throws from junior forward Candice Smith, Mauler swished three 3-pointers as part of a 13-5 run over the final four minutes.
"Second half, Mauler started hitting," McFarland said. "A couple (3-pointers) kind of got them a lead, made us a little tighter."
Great Bend took a 23-18 lead into the fourth, when both offenses started to click. The Panthers scored 19 points in the final eight minutes while TMP netted 20. The Monarchs trailed 34-26 with under than two minutes left but got within 37-35 after freshman Jaci VonLintel’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining. The Monarchs knocked the ball loose on the inbounds pass, but instead of a turnover were whistled for a foul. Great Bend made 5 of 6 from the line in the final seconds to hang on for the win.
"We had the turnover right there that we needed," McFarland said. "We had the foul call; they went down and hit their free throws. We did what we’re supposed to do at the end of the game."
Mauler led all scorers with 14 points and Smith added 10 for Great Bend (6-13). Sophomore Emilee Lane led TMP (6-12) with 10 points.
TMP finished shooting 26% from the floor and needed to make four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to shoot 30% from beyond the arc. Great Bend made 29% of its shots and 32% from long range.
"That happens in a game," McFarland said of her team’s cold shooting. "You’ve got to keep playing good defense, battle through it. It’s a learning experience."