ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Along with conference championships come post-season honors, and both the Tabor women’s and men’s basketball programs received a bushel of awards last week.
For the 16th-ranked Tabor College women, it started at the top as coach Rusty Allen was honored as the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach-of-the-Year for 2004-05.
In his fourth year at the helm, Allen has compiled a record of 73-45, including 24-5 this season and a trip to the NAIA national tournament at Sioux City, Iowa, this week.
Allen’s Bluejays breezed through the KCAC with a 17-1 conference record and claimed Tabor’s first women’s basketball championship since the 1991-92 season.
“Good players make good coaches,” Allen said. “A lot of those awards are indicative of how the team has done.
“I told my team these awards are as much of an honor to our team as they are to the individual.”
Allen is assisted by Shawn Winter and Blake Buhrman.
Junior Erica Hemmert was a unanimous first-team selection. The WaKeeney native was named all-conference as a sophomore after being named Newcomer-of-the-Year as a freshman.
Hemmert led the Bluejays in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per contest along with 2.4 steals, 3.4 assists and 5.7 rebounds.
Hemmert shot 41.3 percent from the field (138-334), including 39.2 percent (38-97) from the 3-point line.
“Erica was unanimous,” Allen said. “She showed throughout the year she’s one of the best players in our conference.”
Sophomore Donya Anderson makes her first appearance on the All-KCAC squad after leading the Bluejays and the conference in rebounding this season with nine per game.
Anderson, a native of Ardmore, Okla., also averaged 9.0 points, 1.9 steals, .7 blocks and 2.7 assists per game.
Anderson connected on 55.5 percent of her field goal tries (100-180), including three of five from beyond the 3-point line.
“Donya was a bit of a surprise to people,” Allen said. “But the way she came on after Christmas convinced the other coaches she was one of the top 10 players in our conference.”
Winning both the Newcomer-of-the-Year and a spot on the all-conference first team was Derby freshman Stacie Herman.
Tabor’s second leading scorer, Herman averaged 11.2 points, 1.6 steals, 2.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. She shot 45.1 percent from the field (119-264), including 43.6 percent (41-94) from the 3-point line.
“I think that was hands down,” Allen said of the recognition. “There was really no question about that.”
Earning honorable mention honors was Hillsboro’s Jill Hein.
A junior, Hein, averaged 8.7 points, 2.2 steals, 1.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds.
Hein made 36.7 percent of her field-goal attempts (94-256), including 23 of 77 (29.9 percent) of her 3-point tries.
Tabor’s women were scheduled to play Daemen College of New York at 8:30 a.m., today, March 9. Complete results of Tabor’s play at the national tournament will be available in next week’s Hillsboro Free Press. A brief report will be available as soon as possible on the Free Line (947-3336) and Web site.
For the 22nd ranked Tabor men, Don Brubacher brought home Coach-of-the-Year honors after transforming Tabor’s 4-4 start in the KCAC this winter into a 14-4 record. The Bluejays won second consecutive conference championship and a berth in this week’s NAIA Division II national tournament at Point Lookout, Mo.
In his 23rd year as coach, the conference title was the 11th for Brubacher and the 20th time in 23 years his team qualified for post-season play.
“Typically, this honor goes to the coach who wins the conference,” Brubacher said. “I thought this might have been an exception to the rule this year.”
Brubacher’s career record at Tabor is 358-268, including a mark of 20-9 this season.
Brubacher is assisted by Chris Popp, Matt Vogt and Darren Gray.
Leading the way for the Bluejays on the All-KCAC team was Hillsboro junior Grant Brubacher, a unanimous first-team selection at point guard.
Brubacher was Tabor’s second leading scorer at 10 points per game. He has made 44.7 percent of his field goal tries (114-255), including 27.8 percent (27-97) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Brubacher also averaged 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest and was third in the KCAC with assists per game at 3.8.
“I was disappointed we only had one first-team All-conference selection,” Brubacher said. “But having said that, I think Grant was deserving of being selected to the first team.”
Honorable-mention honors went to Brad Gattis and Martin de Boer.
“Both Bradley and Martin were clearly deserving of their selection as honorable mention players,” Brubacher said. “I thought they were deserving of at least that level of recognition.”
Gattis, a Hesston junior, was All-KCAC last year and was named to the all-freshman team two years ago.
Gattis led Tabor in scoring with 10.4 points per game while hitting 40.5 percent (90-222) of his field-goal attempts. He also averaged 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists.
A senior transfer from Lawrence, de Boer was Tabor’s third leading scorer at 9.9 points per game while shooting 47.1 percent (104-221) from the field and averaging 5.3 rebounds per contest.
Also recognized was Caldwell senior forward Scott Shaffer, who was named to the All-Defensive team after averaging just under one steal, 5.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
“Scott is an outstanding defensive player,” Brubacher said. “I think he was a real shoo-in of that award.”
The Bluejays will begin play in the NAIA national tournament at 2 p.m., Thursday, March 10, when they face ninth-ranked and seventh-seeded Walsh University of Ohio (22-8).
“Walsh has a 6-foot, 10-inch, 260-pound center that has a good chance of playing in the NBA,” Brubacher said. “He played two years at Barton County and transferred to the University of Cincinnati, where he started until he left the program.
“He’s a very good player but they’re very good without him, too,” Brubacher said. “They also have three guys that shoot over 40 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
“They are a very talented team and if we don’t play really well, it’s going to be embarrassing.”
Complete coverage of the Bluejay men will be available in the Hillsboro Free Press next week. A brief report will be posted on the Free Line and the Free Press Web site.