By Mike Courson
GREAT BEND, Kan. – Kayla Vitztum’s half-court shot may have been released just after the third-quarter horn sounded. The officials counted the swish and that’s just the way the game went for Vitztum and the No. 2 TMP girls (3A).
That shot capped a 15-point quarter for Vitztum and propelled the Lady Monarchs to a running-clock 65-36 win against a beat up Great Bend squad Tuesday night.
“We thought it was going to be a really close game, so to be able to run on such a good team like that was really good for us,” said the junior Vitztum.
Despite a sloppy first half for Great Bend, the Lady Panthers trailed just 30-20 at the half. The Lady Monarchs changed that in a hurry. Four different players scored as TMP opened the second half with six baskets on its first seven shots.
“I just think we came out with more energy,” said TMP coach Rose McFarland. “We got a few layups, shots started falling inside, and defensively we tried to clamp down a little on their drives.”
Vitztum and senior Megan Koenigsman proved to be a one-two punch for the Lady Monarchs. Koenigsman hit her first three shots in the frame, and Vitztum had a perfect quarter, including the buzzer beater from mid court that stunned everyone in the gym, including Vitztum.
“I was just thinking there wasn’t a lot of time left and we probably couldn’t get a play off, so I just shot it up there,” she said.
Vitztum finished with 15 points and five boards in the quarter. “A lot of times we have different girls step up,” McFarland said. “We’ve had multiple girls as our leading scorer. They work well together. (Kayla) really stepped up in the second half.”
Last week, Great Bend fell victim to another running-clock loss against ranked McPherson. In that contest, the Lady Panthers only trailed by 10 at the half.
“We come out so flat in the third quarter,” said Lady Panther coach Carrie Minton. “It’s not just been tonight, it’s been the last several games. I felt like we competed in the first half. In all actuality, with some of the shots and free throws we missed in the first half, we were right there with them. We didn’t take advantage of those first two possessions coming out of the gate in the third quarter and the floodgates opened.”
The Lady Monarchs flirted with a running clock early in the fourth quarter. Fittingly, it was Vitztum’s steal and basket that set the clock in motion for good with 6:03 to play.
Vitztum led all players with 21 points and also grabbed seven rebounds. Senior Madyson Koerner scored seven of her 16 points in the opening frame, and Koenigsman also hit double figures with 12 points.
Great Bend used a different line up with senior guard Keely Ireland out with an injury. Senior Carly Dreiling and junior Carley Brack played with injured fingers, and starting senior Camryn Dunekack left the game with an injury in the third quarter.
Senior Kate Warren got the start, making her first three baskets in the post. Dreiling added five points in the first quarter and Great Bend trailed just 16-13 after eight minutes.
Dreiling paced the Lady Panthers with nine points. Brack added eight points, and Warren finished with six points and five rebounds.
TMP ups its win-streak to 15 games after an early season loss to Class 6A Manhattan. The Lady Monarchs are now 16-1 overall. Great Bend falls to 10-7 on the season.
Great Bend boys 47, TMP 40
With just three wins entering the night, the Panthers are playing mostly for pride in the final two weeks of the regular season. Senior Kody Crosby found some extra motivation on Senior Night, firing in a season-high 28 points to lead Great Bend to victory.
The Panthers (4-13) dominated the first half to lead 24-13 at the break. Crosby, who scored his 1,000th-career point a week ago, hit a pair of threes and scored half of the 24 points in those first two quarters.
“We were just going out and having fun, playing as a team,” Crosby said. “It was one of our last times playing here.”
TMP (9-8) battled back in the second half. Big man Creighton Renz scored six points in under four minutes to shrink the gap to 26-21. Crosby answered with six points in the final four minutes to keep the gap at 32-28 with a quarter to play.
The teams began trading 3-pointers. Monarch junior David McFarland knocked down a trey to give TMP its first lead at 33-32 with 5:51 to play. Panther senior Jacob Murray answered with a three, then TMP senior Hayden Lowe hit a three and grabbed a steal that resulted in a free throw for a 37-35 Monarch lead with 5:02 remaining.
Crosby proved to be too much. His final 3-pointer of the night gave the Panthers the lead for good with 3:05 to play. Down the stretch, Crosby went 4 for 4 from the free throw line to stave off any comeback bids on the other end.
Crosby led all players with 28 points and grabbed five of his seven rebounds in the third quarter. Murray finished with five points for the Panthers.
Renz notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards. McFarland added 11 points, Lowe scored eight points, and Michael Lager finished with six points for TMP.