TMP basketball sweeps Sacred Heart

By Larry Moritz
Special to the HDN
Hayden Brown (3) of TMP-Marian puts a shot up as he stumbles over Jacob Gormley (1) Sacred Heart on Friday night.  The Monarchs took home the road win with a final score of 54-47.
Kassidi Yost (25) of TMP-Marian, looks to take the ball the other direction after stealing a pass from Sacred Heart Friday night as the Monarchs were on the road in Salina.
Ellie Woodall (21) Sacred Heart gets her hand on the ball as Kyleigh Allen (32) TMP-Marian tries to put up two points in the Knight's gym on Friday night.
Dylan Werth (34) of TMP-Marian puts up a jumper over Sacred Heart's Gustavo Campa (55) Friday night.  This was the Monarch's first game since returning from winter break.
TMP-Marian's Megan Hamel (24) goes for a lay up while being defended by Katy Weis (1) Sacred Heart in their home gym on Friday night.  The Monarchs ran away with the 60-33 win.
Gavin Unrein (12) TMP-Marian gets air as he goes up for two points over Sacred Heart's Mason Richards (21) Friday night as the Knights hosted the Monarchs.

SALINA — The first game back after a lengthy break can leave some teams looking a little rough around the edges.

Both Sacred Heart and Thomas More Prep-Marian seemed to smooth things out considerably in the final two quarters Friday night, leading to an entertaining second half in what was the first game of 2021 for both teams.

The Monarchs, held to 14 points in the opening half, scored on 14 of 17 possessions in one second-half stretch to take the lead for good in their 54-47 non-league victory at the Sacred Heart gym.

“It was fun to get back on the floor and be able to play again,” TMP coach Bill Meagher said. “We have a lot of respect for Sacred Heart and their program so this was an enjoyable night for us.”

Sacred Heart (3-2) led by only two points at halftime and was up 24-20 nearly three minutes into the third quarter. At that point the Monarchs (5-1) had made a total of six field goals in the game, and five of those were behind the 3-point line.

“The first half is what happens when you have three weeks off,” Meagher said. “We told the kids at halftime that we were getting the looks we wanted but we just weren’t finishing them.

“The second half we knocked the rust off. We looked better in transition and we were finding guys in the right spot. Dylan (Werth) was more comfortable around the basket and we were getting it into him.”

Over the last five minutes of the third quarter and first four minutes of the fourth, TMP was 13 of 21 from the field and had four second-chance buckets in that stretch. Werth, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, made all six of his field goal attempts in the Monarchs’ 28-16 run that turned a four-point deficit into a 48-40 lead.

Mason Richards had Sacred Heart’s only 3-pointer in the game when he hit from the left wing with 3:31 to play. Alex Disberger then had an offensive rebound and follow shot to cut the lead to three (48-45), but TMP’s Jackson Schulte hit a contested jumper from just beyond the free throw line on his team’s next possession. Schulte also hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final 25 seconds to help close it out.

Schulte had 16 points to lead the Monarchs. Werth scored 12 of his 13 in the second half and added 12 rebounds. Disberger also had a double-double for the Knights, going for 16 points and 12 rebounds. Jacob Gormley scored nine of his 11 points after halftime.

Both teams were playing shorthanded in the first game back due to illness. The Knights were without senior guard Caleb Gilliland, while TMP played without junior starters Bryce Seib and Jace Wentling.

“Hayden Brown and Gavin Unrein did a good job stepping into their roles,” Meagher said, “and Kade Harris did a nice job as well.

“We talked at the beginning of the season about having a ‘next man up’ mentality and that’s what they did tonight.”

TMP-Marian girls 60, Sacred Heart 33

The holiday break seemingly lasted a little longer for the Sacred Heart girls, who found themselves in a double-digit hole before they attempted their first shot of the new year in Friday’s contest.

The Knights turned the ball over on each of their first five possessions in the game to trail 11-0, and that deficit grew to 16-0 before Sacred Heart got its first points on a second-chance basket from freshman Avery Eshleman with 2:40 to play in the first quarter.

The Knights (3-2) had no answer for TMP’s Emilee Lane in the first half. The 6-foot junior was 8 of 9 from the field and had 17 of her 19 points before halftime. Senior Kyleigh Allen had nine first-half points and junior Sophia Balthazor had eight as the Monarchs (5-1) went up 37-12 at halftime.

“I thought in the first half we did a lot of good things,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said. “We were running the floor and playing pretty good defense.”

The Monarchs turned several Sacred Heart turnovers into transition baskets in the opening half with steals leading to uncontested layups or 2-on-1 opportunities.

“Something we emphasized over the break was getting in the passing lanes and anticipating,” McFarland said. “I liked our transition game. We ran the floor and did a good job looking for teammates.”

Sacred Heart was down 42-12 early in the third quarter before a 10-0 run, capped by back-to-back 3’s from Katy Weis and Ellie Woodall, cut the lead to 20. The Knights never got any closer.