ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Key injuries may be finally catching up with the Tabor College men’s basketball team.
Offensive chemistry and team continuity played a big part in the Bluejays’ 73-66 loss to the McPherson Bulldogs Saturday night in Hillsboro, according to head coach Don Brubacher.
“We just could not play any offense,” Brubacher said. “We couldn’t execute anything. Even with that, we had every opportunity to win the game.”
The Bluejay’s leading scorer from last season, Micah Ratzlaff, will be out for the season after being granted a medical red-shirt last week. Ratzlaff has been hobbled with bone spurs on his ankle and was slow to recover from surgery to remove them.
Another Bluejay, freshman Grant Brubacher, is battling an ankle injury from the soccer season. His status for the remainder of the season has not been determined.
With those two out, the Bluejay squad is depleted and seeking offensive consistency, Brubacher said.
“There is not a man on the court who is making a sincere effort to create an offensive play, and that’s where we are,” Brubacher said. “We just go through the motions offensively. We’ll continue to try and find ways to produce offense.”
After jumping out to an 11-point lead early in the game against McPherson, the Bluejays fell into a slump half way through the first half. The Bulldogs took full advantage of the opportunity, putting together a 15-2 run to take a 30-28 lead into the locker room at half.
Brubacher said he told his players during intermission that they were lucky to be in the game after giving up the late run.
“I told them we were terribly fortunate to have played as bad as we did and only be down two at the half,” Brubacher said.
In the second half, Tabor’s Jeremiah Randall gave the Bluejays the lead with 6:33 left in the game with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
But the Bluejays went through another offensive drought late and were unable to catch the Bulldogs, despite a late-game rally.
“We had some horrible stretches,” Brubacher said. “It was just absolutely terrible.”
Tabor turned the ball over 18 times and shot 29.6 percent from behind the arc.
Tabor’s Tyson Ratzlaff and McPherson’s R.J. Davis both finished with 17 points. Ratzlaff had five rebounds, five assists and one steal to go along with his points.
Southwestern-Tabor grabbed a 61-53 overtime win Thursday night against Southwestern College.
The Bluejays and Moundbuilders both struggled offensively in the first half. When the buzzer sounded, Tabor trailed 28-22.
In the second half, the Bluejays outscored the Moundbuilders 28-22 to tie the ball game up and send it into overtime after Scott Brubacher’s desperation heave at the end of regulation.
In the extra period, Tyson Ratzlaff and Jimmy Janzen took control of the game. After the two teams traded buckets in the early moments, Janzen nailed a jumper from the baseline to give the Jays a 56-52 lead.
With less than a minute left, Ratzlaff was fouled driving into the lane. After hitting both free throws, the Bluejays were up 58-52.
Ernest Nortey hit one of two free throws down the stretch and Janzen added a buzzer-beating layup to give the Bluejays their first KCAC win of the year.
Tyson Ratzlaff led all scorers with 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Coming-With the loss to McPherson on Saturday, the Bluejays are 3-5 overall and 1-1 in the KCAC.
Tabor travels to Wichita Thursday to battle the Friends Falcons and will face Bethany College Saturday at Lindsborg. The Friends game is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. and the Bethany game will start at 7 p.m.