CHANUTE, Kan. — After fighting their way past two state-ranked opponents on their way to the championship, Carthage came up short of the title.
The Tigers fell to the Bishop Miege Stags, 77-57, bringing home second place in the 50th annual Ralph Miller Classic.
The Ralph Miller Classic, touted as one of the toughest mid-season tournaments in the state of Kansas, hosted four top-15 ranked teams in their respective state and class.
“If this doesn’t get you ready for what you’re gonna see in your conference and district games, then I don’t know what will,” Carthage coach Nathan Morris said of the Ralph Miller Classic as a whole. “For us to come over here and beat two state-ranked teams and go toe-to-toe with another one, we’ll take that.”
Sophomore Justin Ray, juniors Max Templeman and Clay Kinder, and seniors Caden Kabance and Joel Pugh took the floor to start for Carthage.
The Tigers were on their game early, knocking down four 3-pointers on the way to a 16-point first quarter, trailing by just three. Carthage’s 9-for-20 performance from deep was good for 44% on the night.
“I feel like we came out and shot the ball well to start the game,” Morris said. “Our kids did an excellent job executing the scouting report.”
The second quarter is where things started to get interesting.
After two Tigers took an elbow to the face on the same play, and a crowd uproar from numerous missed calls against Bishop Miege, Carthage started to slip. Although he was visibly, and audibly, frustrated with the officials during the game, Morris refuses to blame a loss on officiating.
“I think the game got a little wild there for a little bit,” Morris said. “I told our guys in the locker room… continue to do what you’re taught to do and how you’re coached, and I thought our kids did a good job of keeping their head in the basketball game.”
Even as the Stags tried to pull away, Carthage held it together until the intermission. The half ended with the Tigers on the Stags’ heels, 32-28.
“I didn’t think we played very well in the second quarter, and to only go down four was huge for our basketball team,” Morris said.
Bishop Miege hit a hot streak after halftime, out-scoring Carthage 25-11 in the third frame on the way to a score of 57-39 with just eight minutes to play.
Pugh led the Tigers on offense, notching a team-high 23 points.
Templeman added 16 points, while Kinder had 11.
Although Carthage managed three players in double-digits, bench production was non-existent.
Carthage struggled on the boards in this matchup, allowing numerous offensive rebounds by the Stags.
This, alongside their inability to contain Bishop Miege’s transition game, ultimately led to the squad’s demise.
“I feel like the game was played extremely physically, and it kinda wore us down as the game went on,” Morris said. “I felt like we gave up way too many easy baskets.”
With a 2-1 showing at the Ralph Miller Classic, Carthage sits at 14-3 overall.
UP NEXT: Carthage returns home to Southwest Missouri to resume action next Thursday, when they host the Nevada Tigers.
“I think we need to go back and get our kids healthy and get their legs back under them,” Morris said.
RALPH MILLER CLASSIC TITLE GAME
Bishop Miege 77, Carthage 57
Carthage 16 12 11 18 – 57
Bishop Miege: 19 13 25 20 – 77
CARTHAGE: Joel Pugh 23, Max Templeman 16, Clay Kinder 11, Justin Ray 5, Caden Kabance 2.
BISHOP MIEGE: Christian Bowen-Webb 28, Daegan Jensen 16, Mack Martin 8, Aidan Wing 8, Kellan Boylan 8, Xavier Hall 7, Team 2.