Monarch girls outlast Goodland, reach sub-state final
NORTON — The Monarch girls were dealt a significant blow minutes into Thursday’s Class 3A sub-state semifinal when junior starter Kassidi Yost went down with an ankle injury.
Yost, a strong defender and rebounder for TMP-Marian, was unable to return, leaving a big void.
However, the Monarchs used a team effort to fill that void and keep their season alive.
TMP outlasted a talented Goodland team to take a 48-46 win in a game that came down to the final seconds, with the Cowgirls missing a shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
With Yost sidelined, TMP coach Rose McFarland praised each one of TMP's other six players that took the floor for rising to the occasion.
“Kassidi’s been playing really well lately,” McFarland said. “She was kind of turning the corner offensively, too. It was a blow not to have her in there, but the other girls stepped up and played hard for her."
"I’ve got to credit all of them," McFarland added. "They all did their thing. They did what they were supposed to do.”
In a matchup of co-Mid Continent League champions, TMP (19-3) was set to face Phillipsburg (19-2) in the sub-state championship game Saturday in Norton. Phillipsburg advanced with a 49-36 win over Norton.
Goodland led 41-39 midway through the fourth quarter before TMP senior Kyleigh Allen hit four straight free throws. Jaci VonLintel's steal and breakaway layup pushed the Monarch lead to four with about three minutes left, but a 3-pointer from Goodland standout Talexa Weeter pulled the Cowboys within a point with 1:28 left.
After Megan Hamel hit one of two free throws with 46.5 seconds left to put TMP up two, Goodland had two chances to get the game tied but came up empty.
The Cowgirls threw it down low to Weeter, who traveled while being double teamed. Goodland then came up with a steal and called timeout with 8.2 seconds left.
On the final possession, an entry pass in the post was deflected away, but Goodland's Lindsey Cure saved the ball and found a wide-open Sydney Hahn on the right side for a potential game-tying jumper.
Hahn's jumper bounced off the rim twice just before time expired.
“That’s the game of basketball, right?” Goodland coach Bill Biermann said. “At the end of the day I just think you want to try and put yourself in a position to win. When you get down to the end of the game, the situations will either allow you to win or you don’t win. I’m proud of my girls.
“TMP deserves a ton of credit. They played really well tonight, really hard. They’re a really good team, very well-coached. We knew coming in they would test us.”
TMP went into halftime with a 28-18 lead after back-to-back 3s from Sophia Balthazor and VonLintel. But Goodland opened the second half on a 9-0 run. The Cowgirls (18-4) later grabbed their first lead at 38-37 early in the fourth, and then went up 41-39 on a 3-pointer from Emma Lehman.
“Second half we got a little conservative and weren’t as eager to pass the ball around. But we maintained and then we hit our free throws at the end of the game," McFarland said.
With Goodland concentrating much of its defensive effort on containing Emilee Lane in the post, it opened things for Allen, who finished with a game-high 15 points.
“She was definitely the difference-maker,” Biermann said of Allen. “We were going to put a lot of focus on Lane and (Balthazor)… Hats off to them, they had a couple other players really step up and I’m sure coach (McFarland) feels good about that moving forward.
“They just have a complete team. And you couple that with being well coached, they’re a tough out.”
VonLintel added 12 points despite battling foul trouble. She had two fouls in the first half and picked up her third early in the third quarter, but avoided fouling the rest of the way.
“We got a little bit of a lead and they just kept coming back,” McFarland said. “We had a little bit of adversity with Kassidi going down and then Jaci had fouls. (Jessica Herrman) came in and gave us some good minutes and we just maintained. The rest of them just had to play the whole game.”
Goodland ended the season 18-4. Lehman led the Cowgirls with 13 points while Weeter added 12.
The Cowgirls are set to return a strong nucleus next year.
"We weren’t very good a couple years ago," Biermann said. "We fought really hard to get our program back. I had three seniors (Hahs, Mikayla Biermann and Atalee Amthor) that really led us in that, too.
“Our cupboard looks pretty good, now that we’ve been able to build that culture back."