ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Looking to rebound from a 23-point loss to Northwestern at the Defender Gold Thanksgiving Classic in Sioux Center, Iowa, the night before, Tabor faced the hometown heroes of Dordt College at DeWitt Gymnasium.
Although the calendar said it was another day, the Bluejays played a lot like they did against Northwestern, losing to Dordt 82-49.
“Friday’s game seemed to carry over for us into Saturday,” coach Don Brubacher said. “Instead of regrouping, it appeared we started at the worst of our play from Friday and took off from there.”
A layup by Jared Reese at 17:38 mark gave Tabor’s what proved to be its largest lead of the evening, 5-2. It took Dordt just over five minutes to transform the three-point deficit into a 16-point advantage, courtesy of a 19-0 run.
“We had a terrible stretch,” Brubacher said. “We shot the ball even more poorly than we did on Friday.”
But the Bluejays showed similarities to last season’s conference championship team, battling back to within three points at 26-23 after Jared Reese canned a 3-point shot at the 5:52 mark.
“The good news is we’ve shown flashes of what I think can become our consistent level of play,” Brubacher said. “We played very well in this stretch of the game, but we also had stretches where we played very poorly.”
As soon as Tabor had scratched its way back into contention, one of the aforementioned poor stretches resulted in a 16-0 Dordt scoring run to put the Bluejays in a 42-23 hole.
Tabor never closed the gap to less than 25 points in the final 20 minutes as Dordt cruised home with a 32-point win.
Reese was the only Bluejay to crack double digits, scoring 15 points. Tabor hit 15 of 55 (27.3 percent) of its field-goal attempts although Tabor did sink all 13 free-throw attempts.
“It remains to be seen whether this helped us or not,” Brubacher said. “We have the opportunity to learn from our experience this weekend, but we’ll have to wait and see if we do indeed learn from it.”
With the loss, Tabor fell to 3-4 for the season.
“We have a chance to get better because we now have had some of our weaknesses pointed out rather rudely,” Brubacher added. “But whether we can recover our confidence and get back to playing or game, we’ll have to wait and see.
“I’m concerned about our conference opener this week, but we just need to understand what we need to do to play our best basketball and accept that and get the job done.”
Northwestern College-As if a seven hour road trip to Sioux Center wasn’t bad enough, the Tabor men traveled into a Lions den to face the NAIA’s preseason No. 1 team in Northwestern College of Orange City, Iowa.
Tabor’s 87-63 loss wasn’t entirely surprising.
“This is very good competition,” Tabor coach Don Brubacher said. “But it’s a level of competition we should be prepared to handle.”
And throughout the first half, the Bluejays did handle it. Pat Miller’s layup with 16:18 remaining gave Tabor an 8-6 lead.
The Bluejays remained in contention as Jared Reese beat the defense down court and scored off a Tyler Weinbrenner assist to knot the game at 17 with 10:32 left in the half.
Tabor was still within six points, 37-31, with 3:45 left in the half after a pair of Caleb Rector free throws. But an 8-1 run put Northwestern on top 45-32 before Brad Gattis nailed a 3-point shot with nine seconds left in the half.
“We held our game together reasonably well in the first half, but we still made a lot of mistakes,” Brubacher said.
“Where they really hurt us was on the boards. They had 19 rebounds in the half and we had only 10. But we did manage to stay reasonably well organized, which kept us close.”
The momentum generated by Gattis’s 3-point shot carried over into the second stanza. In fact, when Reese connected on a long 3-pointer with 12:25 to play, Tabor crept within seven points, 56-49.
Unfortunately, Tabor turned colder than a well digger’s derriere as Northwestern went on a 16-0 scoring run over the next six minutes.
By the time Grant Brubacher nailed a short jumper with 6:40 to play, Tabor trailed 72-49.
“Our game fell apart to a certain extent,” Brubacher said. “We made a lot of bad decisions. We started rushing a bit and we just weren’t settled in and comfortable with our game.
“We just got caught up in a situation where we didn’t execute very well.”
With the flood gates open, Northwestern went on for the 23-point win. Tabor hit just 40 percent (24-60) for the game including a frigid five of 20 (25 percent) from the 3-point line.
The Bluejays also misfired at the free-throw line, making 10 of 20 (50 percent) attempts.
Gattis led the Bluejays with 17 points while Tyler Weinbrenner and Reese both added 11.
The Bluejays were called for 22 turnovers, although their defense forced Northwestern into 23.
Northwestern connected on 28 of 55 (50.9 percent) field goal attempts and out-rebounded Tabor, 42-28.
Gattis and Matt Nelson both hauled in five rebounds.
Coming- Tabor opens KCAC play Thursday in Hillsboro against Bethany. Tip-off is set for about 8 p.m.
Saturday, the Bluejays travel to Sterling to battle the Warriors beginning at 7 p.m.