Late heroics gives Jays KCAC opening win

Micah Ratzlaff scored 30 points and converted a three-point play with eight seconds remaining to lift the Tabor College men’s basketball team to a 78-77 win over McPherson College in Hillsboro Thursday.

The Bluejays opened the game with an 11-0 run before the Bulldogs tallied their first points on an Antonio Ford 3-pointer with 16:23 left in the first half. The Ford bucket ignited a 15-1 streak that erased Tabor’s early charge.

“We gave it all away,” Bluejay coach Don Brubacher said about the early lead. “Always trying to make something happen that wasn’t there. Impatience.”

McPherson led by as many as four in the first half but Tabor battled back for a 39-35 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs started the second half with a 12-2 run that put them ahead 47-41 at the 17:40 mark. McPherson claimed an eight-point lead twice in the period but Tabor began to work its way back into the game with nine minutes remaining.

Dustin Frost, Micah Ratzlaff and Tyson Ratzlaff each scored three baskets to key a 24-8 run that put Tabor on top 73-69 with 3:26 to go. The teams traded the lead twice more before Ford’s basket with 24 seconds left put the Bulldogs up 77-75.

After a Bluejay timeout, Tabor ran the clock down to eight seconds when Tyson Ratzlaff slipped a pass to his older brother, Micah, on a backdoor cut. The layup was good and Ford was whistled for a foul on the play.

Micah Ratzlaff drained the free-throw for the final point of the game although the Bulldogs did have two wild tries at the basket in the closing seconds.

Brubacher was disappointed in his team’s play, citing a litany of errors: turnovers, poor defensive post play, sluggish perimeter movement, and failure to box out. But he was particularly concerned about his team’s 24 turnovers.

“It’s hopelessly unacceptable,” he said of the total. “We have a junior and senior team. We have to be able to take care of the basketball. We just really need to limit our mistakes.”

Ford tossed in 21 points for McPherson but Bulldog forward Kenny Romero riddled the Bluejay defense for 27 points to lead his team.

“We’re struggling with our interior defense,” Brubacher said. “Every team we’ve played has beat us down on the block.”

Micah Ratzlaff was joined in double-figure scoring by Lance Redetzke with 13 and Tyson Ratzlaff with 10. Micah Ratzlaff had seven rebounds and six steals to lead Tabor.

Tabor is 5-3 overall and 1-0 in KCAC play. The Bluejays host Friends Thursday and travel to Bethany Saturday.

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