Saint Mary—After blowing the Spires off the floor for the first 20 minutes and taking a 44-24 lead on the first shot of the second half, the Bluejays nearly blew it by allowing a 23-6 run early in the second half.
After teetering on the brink of being unceremonially buried before the break, Saint Mary made it 50-45 with 12:02 left in the game.
Zach Vanselow picked up his third foul at 11:18, and Kamrick Lamont made it a one-shot game on Saint Mary’s possession.
Kyle de Blonk scooped in a 2-pointer that made it 52-47 on Tabor’s trip, and Mike Rousell hit a 3-pointer on the next.
Lance Baar grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled by Brian LaTorre with 8:00 left in the contest.
Barr scored the second foul shot, and Orson Thomas swiped the ball from Winston Frazier a moment later.
The steal led to a missed 3-point shot by Kyle Kroeker, and the missed shot led to Baar being mugged without a whistle on the offensive glass. The mugging led to a fast-break layup going the other way, and Saint Mary closed the gap to 56-51.
The frenetic pace continued, and Frazier bounced back from a heavy-handed shot-block by Thomas to cut Tabor’s lead to 57-54 with a 2-pointer.
After a timeout, the Bluejays posted five straight points on their way to a decisive 7-2 run.
Aaron Whitelaw notched a layup-and-1 for an eight point lead with 2:10 remaining. In the final minute, de Blonk rattled off a 5-for-6 string at the foul line and Thomas added one more high-flying block for good measure. Kroeker and Thomas each scored 11 points, and Vanselow added 10. As a team, Tabor went 20-for-30 at the foul line.
McPherson—The Bulldogs flashed their quick-strike ability early in the game and marshalled their scoring touch with great effectiveness only after Tabor took control Saturday.
With Cody Dickerson and Jorge Espino lighting it up from 3-point range, McPherson turned an 8-4 deficit into a four-point lead in the blink of an eye.
The hot-handed Bulldogs wiped out a 13-10 deficit and took a 16-13 lead on back-to-back bombs by Dickerson at 11:11, then turned a 23-21 disadvantage into a 27-23 lead on back-to-backs by Espino at 5:55.
But even with Zach Vanselow in street clothes, Tabor’s presence in the paint was overpowering for large stretches, including the end of the first half, as the Bluejays reclaimed the lead with a 10-3 run.
Tabor continued to shred McPherson inside for the first 8:16 of the second half. Powered by Brent Nelson, who threw in a 3-point play at 17:27 and knocked down a post-up jumper at 12:45, the Bluejays outscored the Bulldogs 16-5 to take a 51-37 lead.
Orson Thomas scored six of his 19 points during the run.
After that, Tabor went ice cold, scoring only three field goals the rest of the way.
At 3:56, McPherson pulled to within 59-58 on a 2-pointer by Dickerson and a pair of foul shots by Zach Kimble.
The play of the game came 1:22 later, when Bulldogs’ senior Shawn Young beat a Bluejay double-team and the shot clock with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc over Nelson’s outstretched arm, giving the visitors a 61-59 advantage with 2:34 to go.
After Thomas scored two foul shots, Tyler Stewart hit a 3-pointer for a 65-61 McPherson lead with 53 seconds left. The Bulldogs extended that lead to 71-63 with foul shots and closed out the game on a 17-4 run.
Whitelaw scored 12 points, and Thomas’ 19-point outing was Tabor’s game-high. Dickerson led McPherson with 20, and Stewart scored 14. Both went 4-for-8 from 3-point range.
Coming—Tabor (5-7) visits Friends (7-4) at 8 p.m. Thursday in Wichita and hosts Ottawa (8-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Both Friends and Ottawa face 3-game weeks after their respective Jan. 31 contests were postponed to Feb. 4. Results for the Monday night games were not available at press time.