A strong second half rally by the Abilene Cowboys fell just short as the sixth ranked Thomas Moore Prep Monarchs won 66-60 Friday night in Abilene.
Sporting a 10-game winning streak, the Monarchs went off on the Cowboys for a 24-point second quarter to boost them to a 12-point halftime advantage at 36-24. The Cowboys could not overcome the big margin the Monarchs established in the second period. During the disastrous second period for the Cowboys, two starters were out temporarily due to injury and senior leading scorer Travis Beetch had to sit several minutes after collecting two first quarter personal fouls.
The Monarchs used a barrage of threes in that period to more than double the Cowboys output in the period.
The Cowboys regrouped and came out played solid defense and had a better offensive second half. Abilene got a 12-point second half from Beetch and when junior Avery Bryson hit his second three of the game with just under 30 seconds remaining in the game, the Cowboys had closed within three at 60-63. That would be Abilene’s final points though and the Monarchs put in three of four charity tosses in the closing seconds to secure the 66-60 win.
“Our kids played hard,” Abilene head coach Terry Taylor said. “I can’t fault their effort. Maybe execution a little bit with turnovers and things that happened and we missed some free throws. We just have to keep battling every possession at a time. For the most part in the second half we did that. Our 3-2 zone was affective for a while as they struggled to make some shots.”
Bryson made the final five points in the Cowboy first to give them a 13-12 lead headed to the second period. Cowboy sophomore Kaleb Becker went down late in the first period with an injury that kept him out of most of the second quarter as well. Junior post Grant Heintz also missed time in the training room.
The Monarchs netted six three point baskets in the first half and they only made nine two-point field goals in the entire game. Senior Ryan Stoecklein led the TMP barrage with three three-pointers and junior Jackson Schulte had three on his way for a team high 17 points.
Stoecklein finished with 13 points and senior Carson Jacobs finished with 12 to lead TMP.
Beetch was nearly perfect at the free throw line for the Cowboys in the second half as he made six of seven and had three field goals as he led Abilene with 18 points. Bryson put in 13 for the Cowboys and Becker finished with nine and Heintz had eight.
One of the other story lines of the game saw the Monarchs attempt 37 free throws compared to Abilene’s 17. TMP was successful 24 times while the Cowboys made 10.
“They are a really good free throw shooting team,” Taylor said. “All their guys are sitting at 70% or better. They missed a few late and that gave us a chance.”
With the win TMP improved to 11-1 while Abilene is 7-5. The Monarchs sit atop their sub-state bracket with that mark, as is Hoisington. Those two teams are not slated to meet until the sub-state tournament.
“Our five losses have come to some pretty good teams,” Taylor said. “Andover (12-0) ranked in the top two or three of Class 5A. Rock Creek (12-0) ranked number one in 3A. Augusta (10-2) ranked in the Top 10 of 4A and Marysville (11-2) is ranked in the Top 10 of Class 3A. The combined record of those teams is 56-5. In four of the five losses we were within two or three points in the second half. Three of those games that happened in the fourth quarter. Maybe we are a better team than our 7-5 record might indicate to some people. I predict all five of these teams could be in state tournaments in March.”
Abilene is currently sixth in the Class 4A West division and it will host Clay Center tonight in a make-up game before traveling to Marysville on Friday. The Cowboys and the Bulldogs are tied for the North Central Kansas League race at 4-1 each.
“Hopefully our kids will show up on Monday ready to play and if we play with this kind of effort we will be fine against Clay Center,” Taylor said. “It’s a big test for us this week. If we want to be league champions we have to beat Clay Center and go to Marysville and get that one.”
Contact Ron Preston at email@example.com.
TMP 66, Abilene 60
TMP 12 24 12 18 – 66
Abilene 13 11 19 17 – 60
TMP (11-1) – Lang 8, Kruetzer 2, Seib 3, Stoecklein 13, Wentling 2, Robbins 9, Schulte 17, Jacobs 12. Totals: 9 (8) 24-37 66.
Abilene (7-5) – Stuber 4, J. West 4, Bryson 13, Beetch 18, Becker 9, Heintz 8, Anderson 4. Totals: 22 (2) 10-17 60.