The Hays Thomas More Prep-Marian Monarch and Lady Monarch basketball teams ventured east Tuesday evening for a step up in classification on the basketball court.

The trip east did not turn out to be very friendly for TMP, however, as their Lady Monarchs did not trail through the entire contest en route to a 53-36 defeat and the Monarch boys led through most of their game but saw the Cowboys rally in the second half for a 66-64 victory.

“We played extremely hard and found a way to win,” said Cowboy coach Terry Taylor, who sat his starting unit for the first two minutes of the second half.

Taylor saw those starters respond when they got back in the game with an 18-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to take their first lead of the game. A blocked shot in the final seconds from Keil Kelly and a free-throw line jumper by TMP’s Kameron Schmidt led to the 2-point victory.

“We just talked about stepping up and playing harder and playing our game,” Taylor said about his speech at halftime. “We didn’t play hard (in the first half) that is why we didn’t start our kids. We wanted to send a message, hey if you don’t play hard you have to sit down. We sat them for the first two minutes of the second half and they decided it wasn’t much fun to sit on the sidelines and watch. They went in and played, they played their hearts out.”

The Monarch boys opened the boys’ game by scoring the first 5 points of the game and did not trail throughout the first half of the contest.

The Cowboys kept things close throughout the opening half and tied the game six different times in the first quarter before the Monarchs’ Ryan Mayorga converted a conventional 3-point play with 0:11 remaining in the first quarter to take an 18-15 lead, a lead the Monarchs did not relinquish until the final seconds of the third quarter.

The game moved into the second quarter with TMP controlling the 18-15 lead and the Monarchs opened the second quarter with an 8-2 run, pushing the lead to 26-17 with 4:39 remaining before intermission.

The Monarchs scored the final 6 points of the first half and took a 35-23 lead into the locker room at intermission.

“First half, we got outhustled, we got outworked,” Taylor said. “Rebounding has been one of our weaknesses all year and it really, really showed in the first half. (The Monarchs) hit the boards and got them.”

TMP scored the first 5 points of the third quarter to build its lead to 17 points, 40-23, but Abilene fought back and closed the third quarter scoring the final 16 points and took a 49-48 lead into the final quarter.

The Cowboys then scored the first bucket of the fourth quarter for a 51-48 lead and the final period saw the two teams trade the lead back and forth seven different times. With 0:22 seconds remaining Abilene’s Tanner Hoekman hit 1 of 2 at the charity stripe for the final 66-64 lead, but the Monarchs still had those 0:22 remaining to tie or take the lead.

The Monarchs worked the clock down to 0:08 before calling back to back timeouts to set up the final shot of the game.

The first final shot attempt came from Jared Vitzum, who attempted a 3-pointer from the left side of the court, but Abilene’s Kelly swatted the shot into the crowd with 0:04 remaining.

TMP called another timeout to set up another final shot. This time the Monarchs got the ball to Schmidt, who dribbled to the left side of the free throw line and shot a jumper. The ball bounced all the way around the rim before falling away as the buzzer sounded.

“That last shot the kid took, the ball was in,” Taylor said. “I don’t know what made it pop out, but it was definitely going to go in the rim, I was thinking overtime. ... Sometimes at home you need a little luck and, obviously, we did at the end.”

The Cowboys were led in scoring by Jesse Patrick’s 18 points while Kelly added 16 and Hoekman pitched in 12 for the Cowboys, who improve to 5-2 on the year.

TMP was led by Schmidt and Jordan Gottschalk, who scored 12 points each while Ryan Mayorga added 11. Peyton Hoffman and Cameron Fouts pitched in 10 points each for the Monarchs, who fall to 3-4 on the season.

“I’m very proud of our kids in the third quarter,” Taylor said. “We tried to send a message to the starters, they didn’t play well, they were standing around. And started the second group. We put our starters back in and they played as well as we have played all year those last six minutes of that third quarter.”

 “It was a team effort, definitely, we had a number of kids that stepped up and played well in the second half.”

The Cowgirls scored the girls’ game’s first 4 points and never trailed throughout the contest.

Abilene outscored TMP 17-9 in the opening period and outscored the Lady Monarchs 13-9 in the second quarter to take a 31-18 lead into the locker room at intermission.

The Cowgirls were led in the opening half by Belle Barbieri, who scored eight points in each of the first two quarters to finish the first half with 16 of her game-high 22 points.

“It wasn’t the easiest of victories,” Cowgirl head coach Janelle Geist said. “We fought the whole way, I thought we finally had the game in hand the final two or three minutes of the game. They kept hanging around. ... It just kept going like we would get a couple of baskets then they would get a couple of baskets. They just kept hanging around and we finally blew it open at the end.”

The Cowgirls opened the second half outscoring TMP 10-4 to build their biggest lead at 41-22 but the Lady Monarchs closed the third quarter with the final 6 points to cut Abilene’s lead to 41-28.

The Cowgirls outscored TMP 12-8 in the final quarter to seal up the 17-point victory.

“Tonight Belle (Barberi) had a great night,” Geist said. “They were having our hard time stopping her and I think our defensive pressure also created a lot of opportunities for us offensively.”

McKenzie Funston added 11 points for Abilene, including 3 3-pointers while the Lady Monarchs were led by Aisha Uwanyuzse’s 12.