TMP boys keep rolling, head to 3A semis

By Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
TMP's Jackson Schulte scored 24 points to help lead the Monarchs past Hugoton and into the 3A semis. [File photo/HDN]

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the  Kansas State High School Activities Association changed the format for this year’s state basketball tournaments. Instead of having all eight qualifiers play first-round games at the state site, the quarterfinals were played at the site of higher seeded teams.

The Thomas More Prep-Marian boys basketball team took to the road Tuesday and advanced to the semifinals of the Class 3A state tournament with an 82-67 win at Hugoton. TMP (21-4) will play Hesston (21-1) at 3 p.m. Friday in Hutchinson.

“One of our goals this year was to be a good road team,” TMP coach Bill Meagher said. “We had done a number of things to get prepared for that, because our regular season had us on the road a lot. It seemed fitting we would play a first round (game) on the road.”

TMP trailed 21-20 after the first quarter but took a 38-33 halftime lead. The Monarchs did it with senior guard Jackson Schulte sitting for much of the second quarter with two fouls.

“That’s the nice thing about our team, the depth allows us to do those kinds of things,” Meagher said. “When you’ve got leads you can sit guys with two fouls.”

Schulte led TMP with 24 points and senior point guard Lucas Lang added 19 points, including hitting three straight 3-pointers in the second half that expanded the Monarch lead from 51-45 to 60-48.

“It was huge at that time,” Meagher said. “Those three 3s were big-time for us.”

TMP took a 54-47 lead entering the final period. The Monarchs led 66-54 when Hugoton was forced to start fouling. The Monarchs scored their final 16 points from the foul line, swishing 16 of-20 free throws down the stretch to beat the Eagles for the second time this season.

“That’s a nice way to finish a game,” Meagher said. “It makes it tough to let a team back in if you do that.”

Sophomore forward Dylan Werth had a double-double for TMP, with 18 points and 13 rebounds, and junior forward Jace Wentling added 11 points.

“One of the differences from the first time (the teams played) is that Dylan has gotten a lot better,” Meagher said. “He just continues to get better every game.”

Hugoton (21-3), which saw its 21-game winning streak come to an end, got a game-high 29 points from senior Sawyer Harper.