HAYS, Kan. - Thomas More Prep-Marian girls put in a new play during the holiday break. The look is designed for a 3-point shot. If the arc is defended, the Monarchs have an opportunity for a post to come open.
On Tuesday, TMP ran the scheme several times. It never worked. In the final seconds, though, the Monarchs used the play again.
This occasion, senior point guard Jillian Lowe sprinted from the left baseline to the top of the key.
She collected a pass from junior Adell Riedel and sunk a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for a 44-43 home victory in a high-profile Mid-Continent League contest versus WaKeeney-Trego at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
“We ran it all the way through, and it was just awesome,” coach Rose McFarland said.
WaKeeney, up two spots to fourth in this week’s Class 2A poll, suffered its first loss and dropped to 7-1.
TMP earned its fourth straight victory, moved to 6-3 overall and 4-0 in Mid-Continent League play. The Monarchs have captured 39 straight MCL contests in the regular season/midseason league tournament.
“The first look is on the other side for a 3,” Lowe said. “And then the last second, last option is me coming up the middle with a double screen to be open.”
Lowe believed her shot was going to come up short. She also didn’t see an open Monarch down low.
“Then I saw my teammate jumping down there,” Lowe said. “Midair I thought, ‘Oh shoot, I should have passed it,’ but it went in.”
As soon as the buzzer sounded, TMP mobbed Lowe at midcourt. She wore a big smile after the contest.
“We set a couple of really good screens for Jillian,” McFarland said. “We had a double screen for her, and she came up, turned, shot with confidence and knocked it down. We have two options out there for 3s, and then the posts are setting screens. … with a chance to roll open. We were only down two, so we didn’t need a 3, but it was a good look.”
It marked Lowe’s first 3 of the contest. Postgame, Trego head coach Donnie Shubert, visibly upset, sat alone on some stairs down a hallway from the gymnasium, and collected his thoughts for several minutes.
“In the timeout, we said, ‘No 3s,’” Trego assistant coach Shelby Crawford said. “And we got screened – someone set a good screen on the girl, and we didn’t switch. We were supposed to be switching, and she hit a good shot to beat us.”
TMP held WaKeeney scoreless in the final 2:59 and ended the game on a 7-0 run.
“We are not going to let this discourage us,” Crawford said. “For 30 minutes, we are the better team tonight, and the last two minutes, we went in a shell, we were playing not to lose, instead of playing to win, and we have got to fix that as coaches, and as players. We will learn from this.”
The Golden Eagles, paced by a perfect shooting performance from junior Libby Frost, led most of the night in its first contest after the holiday break, while TMP had its third game in five days.
Frost missed the last part of the first quarter and all the second with foul trouble. She finished with a game-high 19 points on 6 of 6 from the field and 6 of 6 from the foul line. She banked in her only 3 attempt. The Golden Eagles were 5 of 14 from 3, and TMP went 3 of 9.
Overall, Trego shot 45 percent to TMP’s 40, but the Monarchs had 10 more attempts.
“Usually that brings back memories when they hit the backboard 3,” McFarland said. “We have lost some games over the years with that, but they do shoot the ball pretty good.”
As well, Frost also made another free throw early, but had it taken away because of a lane violation.
“Tonight, she looked like she wanted to shoot the ball,” Crawford said. “And earlier in the season, she didn’t have that mentality where she wanted to shoot the ball, and tonight she did, and hopefully this is a turning point for her.”
TMP led 9-5 after the first quarter, but WaKeeney held a 16-15 advantage at halftime and a 32-26 lead entering the fourth.
Trego again played without sophomore Tillie Malinowsky (concussion), who should return this Friday and for the MCL tournament next week at WaKeeney.
After two free throws at the three-minute mark, WaKeeney led 43-37 but never scored again in front of a loud student section.
“This was a tough crowd,” Crawford said. “We haven’t played in front a crowd like this this year, and I think they played something in it, and we have to learn how to do it, because we have big goals this year.”
McFarland said TMP “turned up the dial” on defense with its full court pressing and half court trapping. Additionally, WaKeeney tried to milk the clock late, which McFarland said “helped us a little bit.”
“I am just happy that we were able to come back,” McFarland said. “The girls didn’t quit, and they kept fighting. We picked up the intensity and hit a couple shots down the stretch. We missed free throws that normally fall, too. I mean, here we are playing at home, and I didn’t feel like we shot the ball very well.”
TMP forced a 10-second half court call on WaKeeney with 2:25 left in the contest. Then, senior Emily Schippers found freshman Emilee Lane for a basket. After a WaKeeney timeout, the Golden Eagles missed a three throw.
With 40 seconds left, Lane found Riedel, a transfer earlier in her career from WaKeeney, for a basket.
Schippers paced TMP with 12 points, Lowe had 11, Lane scored nine and Riedel tallied eight.
“She was a lot of help,” Lowe said of Riedel. “She was like kind of our fire starter. She got us going. She got in there, took some great shots. Nailed some free throws, really helped us out.”
Trego, up 43-41, called timeout with 37.7 seconds remaining.
“We just stayed cool, and we played our game,” Lowe said. “We were passing better than we were before, and we played good defense. We stayed calm, which really helped.”
Trego had the possession arrow, but Riedel forced a tie-up with 29.8 seconds left, which flipped the possession arrow. With 16.2 seconds remaining, TMP forced another jump ball and gained possession for the final shot.
“I was thinking someone had to make the shot,” Lowe said. “I was calm and cool. It went in.”