HUTCHINSON, Kan. (CIK) The Thomas More Prep boys used a little magic to emerge from the Class 3A sub-state bracket in Hoisington; Friday night, the magic finally ran out.
No. 4 seed Girard got 33 points from senior Caleb Muia to advance to Saturday's Class 3A championship game against Beloit, 62 to 50 the final.
"That's a really good team," said TMP coach Bill Meahger. "They're really tough match-ups with really tough players."
It was anyone's ball game most of the night. Girard got on the board first but the Monarchs scored the next seven points, starting with a trey from sophomore Jackson Schulte and capped with a basket and foul from senior Jared Mayers. The Trojans went on to lead 15-12 after one.
Muia put up eight points in the opening quarter. Twice in the second, he grabbed his own misses to finish with 16 points at the half. The Monarchs stayed close with back-to-back and-ones in the final 90 second. Senior Grant Ginther converted the first one, then Schulte capped an 11-point half to cut the gap to 29-28 at the break.
TMP managed to stay close until late in the third. A putback from Mayers kept the deficit at just 40-36 before Girard close the quarter on an 8-1 run.
That momentum spilled over into the fourth quarter. Muia opened with a jumper to extend the lead to 13 points. Midway through the quarter he provided the exclamation point on the evening. Taking a pass from senior Evan Troike, Muia jammed one home. Much to the chagrin of Trojan fans, Muia was whistled for a technical while hanging on the rim with several players under his feet.
The Monarchs never seriously threatened again. After a respectable 11-for-25 effort from the floor in the first half, TMP made just eight of its 32 shots from the floor in the final two quarters. Girard shot 52 percent from the floor on the night.
"There are going to be nights when the shots don't fall and we have to rely on some other stuff," Meagher said. "I thought our guys played as hard as they can play. It's just one of those nights where it's frustrating because you get to the rim but you can't finish. You get the right shots but they just don't fall. I'm proud of their effort and proud of how they played."
Muia scored his 33 points on 13 of 23 shooting. He notched a double-double with 11 rebounds. Tyder Worrell scored nine points for the Trojans, and Troike grabbed 11 boards to go with his seven points.
Schulte paced the Monarchs with 15 points. Mayers added 11 points and six rebounds, and Lucas Lang finished with seven points.
TMP falls to 14-11 heading into Saturday's third-place game against Perry-LeCompton (21-3). The No. 3 seed Kaws dropped a 62-53 loss to No. 2 Beloit in the other semifinal.
"Losing always hurts," said Meagher. "These guys in the locker room, they're hurting. But when we look back and reflect on the season, we're going to see we grew tremendously from the beginning to the end and that's all that matters. We learned some life lessons along the way."