BELOIT — The Thomas More Prep-Marian boys managed to execute a big part of their game plan in Saturday’s Class 3A sub-state final, feeding the ball inside early and often to senior Carson Jacobs.
But against a potent Beloit squad, the Monarchs were unable to find enough of a outside shooting touch to keep pace with the top-seeded Trojans.
Jacobs scored 14 points in the first half to help keep TMP within five points at halftime. However, a third-quarter drought allowed Beloit to build a double-digit lead and the Monarchs never recovered, suffering a season-ending 65-43 loss to the hosting Trojans.
Beloit, last year’s Class 3A runner-up, opened the second half on a 16-5 run to build a 16-point lead. The Monarchs never got the deficit back to single digits.
"They went on a little run, we went on a little dry spell," TMP coach Bill Meagher said. "We got the crowd invited in; you’re on the road in their home place. It just seemed like we could never get momentum back.
"A lot of shots that we normally hit wouldn’t fall tonight. Credit Beloit, they hit a lot of shots tonight. I thought our guys played like warriors and were tough and played all the way to the finish. But I thought, tonight, Beloit was the better team."
Jacobs led TMP with 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting but was the only Monarch in double digits. TMP went 13 of 37 from the field and just 3 of 19 from 3-point range.
"TMP’s tough to guard because they got the inside and the outside presence," Beloit coach Ryan Eilert said. "You’ve got to defend them on the 3-point line. I thought our guards did a nice job of contesting threes and then making sure they were digging out of the post."
Beloit (20-3) will head to the Class 3A state tournament in Hutchinson as the No. 3 seed. The Trojans will meet Nemaha Central in the first round.
Beloit found the inside-outside attack that the Monarchs struggled to establish. Senior post player Bryce Mason led the Trojans with 18 points while senior guards Vincent Palen and Carson Cox added 17 and 12, respectively.
TMP ended the season with a 17-5 mark. Highlights included MCL regular-season and tournament championships.
"I know this hurts," Meagher said. "And part of what hurts is this is the last time we’ll be together as a group. But they’ve got a lot to be proud of — regular-season MCL title, (an MCL) tournament title, getting to the sub-state final, a streak of 12 wins.
"Not just that, but where they’ve grown as people and as men. They have a lot to be proud of for what they did and their efforts this year."
TMP will lose four seniors — Jacobs, Brady Kreutzer, Mason Robbins and Ryan Stoecklein.
"We’re going to miss those guys. We love those guys," Meagher said. "Just incredible men and guys we enjoy being around. They’re warriors.
"The future’s still bright, but it’s painful for us to think about that without those seniors."