Hoxie boys hold off TMP; Monarch girls roll

By Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News

The Monarch boys basketball team had a big obstacle to overcome Tuesday night, and not just because Thomas More Prep-Marian was playing the state’s top-ranked Class 2A team in their gym. Hoxie was unbeaten on the season in large part due to 7-foot senior center Harlan Obioha.

Obioha almost registered a triple-double against TMP, scoring 36 points, with 15 rebounds and eight blocked shots in a 60-54 Mid-Continent League victory.

“He’s one of the best bigs I’ve seen in a long time,” TMP coach Bill Meagher said. “Really, really hard to stop.”

TMP’s post players made Obioha work for everything he got inside, which can only help them improve.

“I thought our big guys really battled tough,” Meagher said. “At the end of the day, he’s a good player who made some great plays.”

Although the Monarchs lost, Meagher said playing a tough opponent on the road can only make his youthful team better.

“We told our guys we needed a game like this,” Meagher said. “There are still areas we need to improve on, got exposed. Better now than later.”

Hoxie (6-0 overall, 3-0 MCL) led 10-8 after the first quarter. The Indians led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter, but TMP senior guard Jackson Schulte canned a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to cut the deficit to 24-18.

“I just don’t think we were at our best at the beginning of the game,” Meagher said.

TMP (5-2, 2-1) took its first — and only —  lead with just over two minutes left in the third quarter on a Schulte 3-pointer to make it 35-34. Hoxie regained the lead, but another Schulte bucket got the Monarchs within a point at 40-39 entering the final eight minutes.

“These guys got themselves going, matched them shot for shot, and took a lead at one point,” Meagher said. “The problem is, we couldn’t maintain that.”

Obioha scored Hoxie’s first six points in the final period, but TMP kept it close. A Schulte shot from beyond the arc got the Monarchs within 48-47 and he added another basket to make it 50-49. But Obioha took over on both ends of the floor down the stretch, scoring five points, with four rebounds and two blocked shots as Hoxie outscored TMP 10-5 in the final minutes.

“I think (the loss) will turn into a really positive thing for us,” Meagher said. “If we could play every single game in a gym like that against a team like that, just accelerates your learning for a young team.”

Schulte scored 22 points to lead TMP, which plays its home opener Friday against Ellis in MCL action.

TMP girls 52, Hoxie 22

The Monarch girls shrugged off a sluggish first half to race past the Indians in MCL action.

TMP (6-1 overall, 3-0 MCL) led 15-7 after the first quarter. But the only Monarch who could score in the second quarter was sophomore Jaci VonLintel, who scored seven points off the bench to give TMP a 22-10 lead. VonLintel made a steal and scored a bucket just before the buzzer.

“She kind of sparked us going into halftime, dove on the floor, got that ball, got up and scored,” TMP coach Rose McFarland said of VonLintel. “She fits in with this group really well. They all have a lot of confidence in each other.”

After the break, Monarch junior forward Emilee Lane scored 13 of her game-high 18 points.

“She stepped it up second half,” McFarland said. “They were double-teaming her first half. She didn’t really get a lot of looks first half.”

The Monarchs forced the action in the second half, turning turnovers into points.

“Gave them some different looks as far as trapping,” McFarland said. “We’ve got some girls that are kind of long. They got a hand on a lot of balls.”

TMP outscored Hoxie 14-4 in the third quarter and continued to roll in the final period, outsourcing the Indians 16-5.

After Lane’s 18, VonLintel added 12 points and junior guard Sophia Balthazor swished three 3-pointers and finished with 10. Hoxie (3-3, 1-2) got eight points from junior Hayley Jacobs.

After Friday’s game against Ellis at Al Billinger Fieldhouse, TMP will take part in the MCL tournament.