Survive and advance.
The Thomas More Prep-Marian girls basketball team doubled the score on Russell by halftime of Tuesday night’s Class 3A sub-state matchup, then hung on to win the first-round game, 47-43, at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
No. 4 seed TMP (10-12) will play MCL rival and top seed Phillipsburg (18-3) in one Friday semifinal at Beloit.
"We know Phillipsburg pretty well," TMP coach Rose McFarland said. "I know they’re going to be prepared for us. We’re excited, get a chance to play them."
The Monarchs and visiting Broncos both started out slow Tuesday, but TMP went on a 10-2 run over the last 4:42 of the first period to take a 14-4 lead. TMP held Russell to 21% shooting in the first half to take a 24-12 lead at the break.
"I thought we played pretty good defense," McFarland said. "I thought we did a nice job inside."
Russell (8-13) rallied in the third quarter. After the Monarchs took their biggest lead at 30-16 on a basket by sophomore Sophia Balthazor at the 5:19 mark, the Broncos went on a 10-0 run before it was stopped by a bucket from junior Kyleigh Allen with 21 seconds left.
Part of the Monarchs’ scoring problem in the third was lack of shots; TMP attempted six, making three.
"We were ahead and just didn’t score for a while," McFarland said.
TMP took a 32-26 lead into the fourth quarter and extended the margin to nine points (42-33) midway through the period when freshman Jaci VonLintel scored back-to-back baskets. Russell made it a one-possession game at 44-41 on sophomore Camille Dortland’s 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining. Russell had to foul, and sophomore Megan Hamel made 2 of 4 foul shots before a late Bronco bucket made it a three-point game with 14 seconds left. Hamel was fouled again with 7.3 seconds on the clock and swished a free throw to preserve the victory.
"A little learning moment there at the end," McFarland said. "We found a way, made some free throws. … I don’t know if early in the season we would be able to hang on like that. The girls really matured, got more confidence down the stretch."
Allen and sophomore Emilee Lane led TMP with 10 points apiece. Three Broncos – senior Ryleigh Wagner and sophomores Rylan Reeves and Aniya Stierlen – scored nine points each, and Reeves pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
TMP lost 55-46 at Phillipsburg last month.
"The pressure’s on them," McFarland said. "We’re just going to play hard, see what happens."