Tabor twosome relies on teamwork – on and off the court

It may be the best two-for-one deal you’ll find-at least on a basketball court.

Ernest Nortey and Lance Redetzke, juniors at Tabor College, transferred from Minnesota this year to play basketball together. More than teammates, they have been and continue to be roommates and close friends.

They heard about Tabor from their coach at Central Lakes Junior College, James Russell, who coached under Tabor’s Don Brubacher from 1988-91.

As they neared the end of their careers at Central Lakes, the two looked into several different schools, trying to find a team with room for both of them.

Tabor fit the bill. They liked the school and Brubacher liked what he saw in both of them.

Despite differing backgrounds, the two formed a fast friendship. They first met their freshman year at Central Lakes through basketball.

They agree that their friendship has made the transition to Tabor much easier, especially since both Nortey and Redetzke are now a long way from their immediate family.

“If he’s going, I’m going,” was Redetzke’s attitude. “I wasn’t really sure I wanted to go to Hillsboro, Kansas, if I didn’t know anybody.”

Nortey is originally from Winnipeg, Man. His family, first-generation Canadians from Ghana, is athletic, but Ernest is the only one who plays basketball.

His interest in the game sprouted in seventh grade and gradually grew as he did. Nortey, who has three sisters, graduated from a school with 1,700 students.

At Tabor, he’s majoring in computer science. He’s not sure what sort of career he’d like, but Nortey is hoping for something in computers or e-commerce.

Redetzke was brought up in a basketball family. His parents are both teachers and involved with sports. He has one sister, who is a sophomore in high school.

Redetzke’s home town is Barnum, Minn., where he graduated from a school with about 50 students in the graduating class.

At Tabor, he’s majoring in business management and marketing.

The duo has found the basketball atmosphere in Hillsboro “wonderful.”

“It seems like everywhere you go, people know you play basketball,” Redetzke said. “It’s basketball crazy.”

He and Nortey agree it’s fun to look into the stands at away games and see their teachers sitting in the stands. That was all but unheard of in the junior college arena.

“Our last game seemed like a play-off game, with the atmosphere and so many people,” Redetzke said. “It’s pretty cool. I like it.”

Relationships within the Bluejay team have become important to Nortey and Redetzke. They appreciate the extended family they have developed with the players and into the community.

“There’s that family outside of the Tabor community-I guess you could say the Hillsboro community-cheering us on wherever we go,” Nortey said.

While the two are thankful for the support and encouragement they’ve received from the team and community, they admit it’s nice to have each other when they’re on the court.

“You feel a lot better knowing that your roommate’s doing well out there even if you’re not,” Nortey said. “At least one of us is doing well.”

Both players have played at post and forward. Redetzke, at 6-6, was the first to crack the starting lineup. But Nortey, at 6-4, has been starting recently. Both get their share of minutes during a game.

For Nortey and Redetzke, changing schools has meant making adjustments-to a new team, new conference, new roles and a new coach.

The style of play in the KCAC is different from what they experienced in junior college. They said junior college ball is more athletic but less organized. There’s more up-and-down action on the floor whereas teams in the KCAC like to set up and run a half-court offense.

The KCAC has better shooters and smarter players, they said.

The biggest change has been in playing time. Both knew coming in that this team would have depth, so they expected less court time.

“In turn, that’s what makes our team so good,” Redetzke said. “We’ve got all this depth and no other team in the conference has it. We can run teams off the floor.”

As for their new coach, they agree that Brubacher is pretty much “right about everything” when it comes to basketball.

“He’s got an answer for everything; he knows what he’s talking about,” Redetzke said. “That’s good.”

Nortey and Redetzke’s personal goals coincide with their goals for the team. They want to win the conference and go to nationals. But they know they have to work hard on their own to help the team get there.

“You have to climb each step of that ladder,” Nortey said. “To do that, you’re going to class, going to practice-and it all builds up to winning conference and going to nationals and doing well. Taking care of the little things is important.”

Whatever this season brings, Nortey and Redetzke agree on at least one more thing: they’ll be back next year for another season.

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