ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DALE BRUBACHER
When the first basket scored by Newman University Friday night was a banked in 3-pointer from the top of the key, it was an indication that it was simply going to be one of those nights for the Tabor College men’s basketball team.
And it certainly was, as the cold-shooting Bluejays fell 65-58 to the Jets in Wichita.
Although Tabor shot a respectable 10 for 23 from behind the 3-point line, as the Bluejay shots got closer to the basket, their shooting percentage plunged.
Tabor was 10 for 36 for a percentage of 27.8 inside the arc. A significant majority of the Bluejay misses were five-footers and layups.
In addition to the icy shooting from the field, Tabor was downright frigid from the free throw line, connecting on only eight of 20 tries.
“We were unsettled,” said Tabor coach Don Brubacher. “We were nervous. We just panicked and when you’re panicked you don’t shoot the ball well. (Newman) played a more determined and intelligent game than we did.”
The lead changed hands seven times in the first half before Kevin Koehn nailed a 30-footer at the buzzer to give Tabor a 25-24 halftime lead. The Bluejays led by as many as four in the second half but Newman took the lead for good, 36-34, at the 12-minute mark.
The Jets led by as many as 12 and were up 11, 63-52, before 3-pointers by Tyson Ratzlaff and Eric Driggers narrowed the margin to five with a minute remaining.
Tabor couldn’t connect in the final seconds and Newman added a pair of free throws to cement the win.
Micah Ratzlaff was the only Bluejay in double figures with 13 points. Koehn, Driggers and Lance Redetzke each had nine. Redetzke topped Bluejay rebounders with six.
Newman’s Reggie Riley drove for 26 points to lead all scorers.
Brubacher expressed hope that his team will improve in its ability to execute the offense after the Christmas break. Newman, he said, exploited that lack of execution.
“Our offense is based on the ability to set and use picks,” he said. “When we allow a team to deny us that, we don’t have an offense. I hope we can develop some determination to set and use picks.”
The 7-4 Bluejays return to action in the Tabor Classic Jan. 5 and 6. Tabor plays Northwest Oklahoma State Friday and Panhandle State Saturday. Game time is 8 p.m. for both games.
The fourth team in the Classic is Bethel College. The Threshers will play at 6 p.m. each night.