Bluejay men’s basketball team opens season with 1-2 record

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor College men’s basketball team opened its new season by splitting a pair of games at Olathe over the weekend after starting with a loss against Newman University on Tuesday.

The Bluejays finished their opening week with a 75-65 loss to MidAmerica Nazarene on Saturday.

“It was a good weekend for us overall, but it was really frustrating Saturday night,” coach Don Brubacher said. “Our players played very hard and did execute very well, but we just didn’t shoot it very well in this game.”

Tabor trailed 31-27 at halftime after shooting 37 percent (10 for 27) in the opening 20 minutes. MidAmerica was only slightly better at 38.5 percent (10 for 26).

The second half came down to free throw shooting. MidAmerica made theirs and Tabor didn’t.

The Bluejays hit nine of 14 free throws while MidAmerica made sank 27 of 33 attempts (81.8 percent).

“We lost the game on the free-throw line,” Brubacher said. “Quite honestly, we really couldn’t figure out how to guard them without the referees blowing the whistle.”

Tabor trailed by 15 points late in the game. But five consecutive offensive possessions produced 3-point field goals by Tabor to slice the lead to five points. But MidAmerica held on with their hot shooting at the line.

The Bluejays connected on 38.5 percent of their field goal attempts (23 for 60) while MidAmerica actually made fewer field goals (22 for 51) for 43.1 percent.

Brad Gattis led Tabor with 17 points. Andy Brubacher added 15 and Tyler Weinbrenner 14.

“We still had good balance in this game, but it was from different players than on Friday night,” Brubacher said. “We have a lot of players who are capable of scoring but we just need to find consistency among them.”

MidAmerica’s Ryan Rundberg led all scorers with 24 points.

Tabor committing only 13 turnovers.

Gattis and Grant Brubacher were named to the all-tournament team for their efforts.

“We battled all the way to the end, and I was really pleased with our effort both nights,” he added. “We were really focused as a team.”

The loss drops Tabor’s record to 1-2 for the season.

Doane College- The Bluejays picked up their first win of the season Friday by defeating the Doane Tigers, 77-57, in the first round of the Mid-America Nazarene tournament.

“It was a good win and our guys did play well,” coach Don Brubacher said. “Doane is an extremely physical team that builds it’s game off of physical strength.”

Tabor connected on 14 of 30 first-half shots (46.7 percent) while limiting Doane to only 25 percent (six for 24) in the opening 20 minutes to take a 41-21 lead into the locker room.

“Our guys played very aggressively and matched their physical play in an appropriate way, so they did a good job,” Brubacher said. “Doane struggle with what we did defensively and had trouble getting shots they were comfortable with.”

Tabor finished the game hitting 24 of 54 from the field (44.4 percent), including seven of 19 (36.8 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.

Tabor also did well at the charity stripe, converting 22 of 27 attempts (81.5 percent).

Grant Brubacher led the Bluejays with 14 points, Brad Gattis added 13, Chris Metcalf 11 and Jared Reese 10.

“You always like it when you have that kind of balance,” Brubacher said. “That’s the way we like to play.”

Tabor’s defense held the Tigers to 33.9 percent field-goal accuracy for the game. The Bluejays out-rebounded Doane, 38-35, led by six by Reese.

Tabor committed only six turnovers in 40 minutes.

The win improved Tabor’s record to 1-1.

Newman- The 2005-06 season got off to a tough start Tuesday when the Bluejays lost to Newman University, 74-58, in Wichita.

“It was a really difficult beginning for us,” coach Don Brubacher said. “We looked very uncertain on the offensive end and we didn’t execute what we’ve been working on at all.”

Tabor hit only 10 of 35 (28.6 percent) first-half field-goal attempts, including a frigid 0-for-10 showing from beyond the 3-point arc. The Bluejays trailed 43-24 at the break.

“We struggled the most on our offensive end,” Brubacher said. “We got good shots from the perimeter, but shot it horribly, and we had trouble finishing on the inside.

“But the biggest thing that concerns me is how much trouble we had executing our offensive system.”

Newman, meanwhile, canned 14 of 27 (51.9 percent) field-goal attempts in the opening 20 minutes, including six of 11 3-pointers.

“We had the most serious breakdowns on the defensive end,” Brubacher said. “That’s something we have to change.”

Tabor committed 21 turnovers compared to 25 by Newman.

“We did go to some pressure in the second half because we were down,” Brubacher said. “But our own turnovers were mostly a result of our lack of execution on offense and that usually results in unforced turnovers.”

Newman narrowly won the rebounding battle, 37-33. Chris Metcalf led the Bluejays with nine rebounds while Matt Nelson and Brad Gattis each hauled in five.

“We held our own, but Newman may be the smallest team we play all year,” Brubacher said.

Tabor hit 48 percent of its second-half shots (12 of 25) and 22 of 60 (36.7 percent) for the game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Newman’s large first-half lead.

Tyler Weinbrenner, playing his first game as a Bluejay, scored a team-high 14 points. Metcalf and Gattis each added nine points and Nelson eight.

Newman had four players in double figures, led by Samuel Spanich with 15.

Coming-Tabor returns to action this Friday and Saturday at the Sterling Classic.

The Bluejays battle Oklahoma Wesleyan University at 4 p.m., Friday, and Bacone College at 4 p.m., Saturday.

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