The No. 2 seeded Tabor men couldn’t get things going in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup against No. 7 Ottawa. The Bluejays trailed by five at the half, and the game ended with Tabor on the short side of a 69-53 score.
The lead changed hands in the opening minutes, but Tabor’s last lead, 6-4, came with 16:31 left in the first half when Chance LeBlanc drained a three-point basket.
A Cameron Rust three-pointer later tied the game at nine, but the Braves surged 7-0 before Marc Hopkinson contributed a basket behind the arc at 11:42 to draw within 16-12.
The Braves answered with a three-point basket, but Tabor found a small spark when JT Nemit cashed in a traditional three-point play and a Bluejay steal led to a Ryan Chippeaux score to draw within 19-17 with 9:58 left to play.
But with Tabor missing shots, the Braves widened the gap to 34-29 by halftime.
“I can’t always explain why a team doesn’t perform well, but we couldn’t get it going Friday night,” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “We played hard but just couldn’t put the ball in the hole, or get stops consistently.”
Ottawa continued to pound away in the second half, hitting a quick three-point basket followed 22 seconds later by a basket off a steal to claim a 39-29 advantage.
When neither team scored the next three and a half minutes, momentum shifted to Tabor when a Chippeaux steal led to a Jackson three-pointer at 15:58.
A Brave turnover led to another three by Jackson 30 seconds later to bring the Bluejays within 39-35.
But Tabor could not complete the climb, and the Braves again surged to a 45-35 lead at 12:54.
Chippeaux and Nemit later scored back-to-back baskets to draw within 47-41 with 8:40 left to play, but the Braves used a 9-0 run to build a 56-41 lead.
Ottawa maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the game and established its largest lead of the night, 65-43, with a three-point basket with 3:22 left.
“Ottawa played well and never let up,” Ratzlaff said. “We had won eight-straight against Ottawa, and I guess our streak was up.”
Jackson led the Bluejays with 15 points. Chippeaux grabbed 10 rebounds.
The loss, paired with a 91-82 overtime loss by top-seeded Saint Mary to No. 8 McPherson, ended Tabor’s national tournament bid.
“I am very proud of my team and the incredible season they had after losing six seniors the year before,” Ratzlaff said. “Hopefully, we can build off this in the future.”