STAFF NOTEBOOK

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Tabor’s trip to McPherson on Saturday was one to remember-for several reasons. First, both the men and the women won important KCAC games. But two other things came to light during the men’s game.

One was a lesson in class, focus and dignity. The other was a lesson in disrespect and how some people can’t control their emotions-to their own detriment.

A foretelling of things to come came during the women’s game when several boisterous fans located behind the McPherson bench and scorer’s table saw fit to belittle and heckle not only the Tabor players on the court, but also the Tabor bench and the game’s officials.

The Bulldog faithful took their support to a new level when the men’s game began.

Now, harassing the opposing team is not only common in the KCAC, it’s probably expected. Even Tabor has fans who stand alongside the court in an effort to unnerve the opponent-and sometimes it works.

But as with most things in life, there is a line out there that shouldn’t be crossed. One Bulldog fan not only approached the line, but stumbled right across it.

The Fan heckled the entire Bluejay team, but focused his belligerence on Tyson Ratzlaff in particular. Hardly a trip up or down the court went by without The Fan hurling insults at the Tabor senior.

The comments were cutting and often tasteless. Adding to the scenario was that a large contingent of Ratzlaff’s family was present at this game-as they are at most Tabor games-and were seated mere feet from the heckler.

Tyson, along with his entire family, virtually ignored the heckler throughout the game. If anything, Ratzlaff seemed to focus even harder on his task at hand, which was contributing to a victory over the Bulldogs.

The Fan, meanwhile, came across as a blithering fool.

The only thing funny about the incident was the effect it had on Ratzlaff. Not only did he defuse the situation by ignoring the insults, he simply answered through his play on the court.

Ratzlaff led the Bluejays to dramatic a come-from-behind overtime victory by scoring 21 points-18 in the second half-and adding five rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and two steals.

Ratzlaff finally gave The Fan the acknowledgement he so madly sought. With about 30 seconds to play and victory well in hand, Ratzlaff smiled and cupped his hand around his ear as if to hear what his “buddy” might have to say now.

Ratzlaff and the entire Tabor squad handled themselves in a dignified fashion. Ratzlaff’s family, no doubt, got the last laugh.

All the heckler proved was that some people don’t know how to behave in public. Who knows? Maybe his mouth provided the extra incentive Ratzlaff and the Bluejays needed to win the game.

Maybe he should be thanked.

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