Monarch boys look to reload

Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
Jackson Schulte leads the returners for the TMP boys after averaging nearly 15 points a game last year.

The Monarchs will count on their backcourt this season, returning their leading scorer off last year’s team and a defensive demon at the guard spots. The frontcourt will be filled with inexperienced players getting an opportunity to contribute.

The Thomas More Prep-Marian boys basketball team starts the season Thursday at the 38th annual Gerald Mitchell Hays City Shootout. The Monarchs will open against Wichita-Life Prep followed by Hugoton on Friday. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 4:45 p.m. On Saturday, TMP will meet crosstown rival Hays High at 7 p.m. All tournament games will be at the Hays High gym, with no fans allowed to attend, per Kansas State High School Activities Association guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re looking forward to it, three games back-to-back, and the competition level is going to be awesome for us,” said third-year TMP coach Bill Meagher. “We’re going to be coming out of that knowing exactly what we’re good at and what we’re not good at.

“We’re excited about it,” he said of the HHS matchup. “We know that they’re a top team in (Class) 5A. They return most of their guys.”

Meagher also is excited to have 6-foot-1 senior sharpshooter Jackson Schulte filling the bucket this season. Schulte led the team in scoring last year, averaging 14.9 points per game. He shot 38% on 3-point attempts and made 80% of his free throws. Lucas Lang, a 5-10 senior guard, is a pest on defense. Both are two-year starters.

“He’s kind of our defensive stopper for us,” Meagher said of Lang. “It’s nice to have a guy like that. Then there’s Jackson, and his scoring ability. Two veteran senior guards is going to be a nice luxury for us.”

Up front, the Monarchs will miss the scoring and rebounding of 6-7 Carson Jacobs, who graduated last year.

“Our biggest concern is replacing the rebounds we lost,” Meacher said. “Carson Jacobs just had some monster rebounding games for us.

“Our other big concern, we felt like last year we let guys get by us too easily (on defense). Keeping guys in front of us on the bounce is one of the things we’re really emphasizing. I think the scoring is going to be there.”

Among those in the mix for playing time up front are 6-3 senior Trent Rome; 5-11 senior Ian Chiu; 6-1 junior Jace Wentling; and 6-6 sophomore Dylan Werth.

“We’re going to be younger and inexperienced at some positions, especially in our post man area,” Meagher said. “We’ve got some guys who haven’t played a lot for us yet, but we think have potential to be really good players for us.

“It will be in flux for a little bit,” Meagher said of his starting lineup. “Obviously, Lucas and Jackson are in there for sure.”

Last season, TMP finished 18-5 and made it to the sub-state title game. The Monarchs won both the MCL tournament and regular season title. As for this year, the goals are simple.

“Our team goal is to have a great practice every day, be the best team we can possibly be,” Meagher said.

Ready or not, it all starts Thursday.

“I don’t know if you ever feel comfortable to start the season,” Meagher said. “The guys are ready to play, see where we’re at.”