Sterling—Starting considerably later than expected on account of the triple-overtime thriller that preceeded the men’s game, the Sterling Warriors beat Tabor 82-62 Saturday night.
Zach Vanselow led all scorers with 15 points and Mike Rousell scored 11 in the first half, including a 2-pointer that gave the Bluejays an early 10-4 lead.
Rousell opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, and Jared Hett made it 6-2 with a triple 51 seconds later. Then Vanselow connected off a feed from Kyle de Blonk for an 8-2 lead 2:59 into the contest.
Tabor matched Sterling score for score during the next 5:53, culminating when Orson Thomas put back an Aaron Whitelaw miss that gave Tabor a 19-14 lead at the 11:08 mark.
Then Sterling broke off a 10-0 run to claim the lead for good.
Tabor bounced back to tie the score at 25, 27 and 29, but entered halftime trailing by seven with Sterling having scored six consecutive points—four at the foul line—in the 1:22 before intermission.
Thomas cut the lead to 47-41 4:13 into the second half, and Whitelaw buried a 3-pointer that made it 59-53.
Whitelaw cut the Sterling lead to nine points when he drained a triple with 7:49 to go, but the Warriors distanced themselves rapidly, outscoring Tabor 17-6 during the final 7-plus minutes of play.
Vanselow finished with 15 points along with four blocked shots. Whitelaw scored 13.
Led by Orson Thomas, the Tabor men stormed back to win 76-64 after trailing 37-26 late in the first half.
Thomas got the rally going with 36 seconds remaining in the opening period, using a sharp jab-step to create space for a 10-foot jumper.
Then, after Bethel burned most of the remaining time hoping for one open shot, Thomas came from the weak side to wipe away a defensive breakdown with a thunderous block.
Thomas and the Bluejays carried the momentum swing into the second half.
Four baskets by Bethel sniper Jordon Regehr scarcely slowed the Tabor comeback, which began with Thomas collecting three consecutive offensive rebounds before finally getting a put-back to fall 26 seconds into the period.
Tabor’s next possession ended with a short jumper by Zach Vanselow and the next climaxed with Thomas burying a pair of foul shots.
Thomas connected on a 3-point jump shot from the top of the arc 3:06 in.
Then Thomas and Vanselow scored back-to-back baskets in the paint, knotting the game.
With the bigs commanding more attention, Bethel’s defense was less able to help against slashing guards. Enter Aaron Whitelaw, who got into the act with a layup followed by a 3-point jumper.
But with Regehr and the Threshers finding the net regularly, Tabor’s lead did not exceed one point until 8:50 when Thomas threw in a traditional 3-point play for a 59-55 score.
The basket sparked a 17-4 run that reached its apex when Whitelaw scored a slashing layup then got back on defense to swipe the rebound of an ill-advised Thresher counterpunch 9 seconds later.
Whitelaw was fouled after the rebound, and Bethel called time out down 70-59 with 3:41 left in the game. Whitelaw made it a 12-point lead by hitting the first of the bonus free throws and the Bluejays matched the Threshers shot for shot down the stretch.
Vanselow played his strongest game in a Tabor uniform, posting 13 points along with seven rebounds and four blocks before fouling out with 1:38 remaining.
Mike Rousell scored 10 points and Whitelaw finished with 17. Thomas totaled 18 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double with five offensive and four defensive boards.
Regehr led all scorers with 23.
Coming—Tabor (3-5) faces Kansas Wesleyan (5-2) Thursday at 8 p.m. in Hillsboro and travels to Bethany (1-6) for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Saturday.