ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
The Tabor basketball team’s opened their KCAC schedules against archrival Bethel College in Newton on Thursday night. The women’s team clobbered the Threshers 70-51, but their male counterparts lost 69-60.
Bethel’s men held the Bluejays to 10-of-30 shooting in the first half, but a determined effort in the paint from Mike Stoeker and Greg Munroe kept the Jays within striking distance throughout the early going.
“It was just a real struggle for us-we shot real poorly and it was our first game without one of our senior starters,” head coach Don Brubacher said.
Andy Brubacher has missed the first two games of conference play after sustaining an injury against Bacone University on Nov. 25. and is likely to be out of action until the end of the month.
“It is an adjustment and (Andy Brubacher’s absence) created some extra difficulties for us,” coach Brubacher said.
“Everyone moves up a spot and somebody who came off the bench effectively becomes a starter and someone who played a limited role gets a very large role…it changes the team structure very dramatically when someone playing 30-plus minutes going out of the lineup, even more so when he’s one of your returning senior starters.”
“Of course, that wasn’t the only factor involved (in the loss) by any means.”
The Bluejays are hopeful that the senior guard will rejoin the team in time for the post-holiday tournament scheduled for Dec. 29th and 30th.
In the senior guard’s absence, Tabor grabbed an early lead behind their post men.
Munroe converted an early offensive rebound into two points and Stoeker followed with his first bucket of the night 38 seconds later.
Bethel rallied back and took its first lead at the 14:23 mark of the first half.
But when an offensive foul called on Eric Weinbrenner-who started in place of Andy Brubacher-brought freshman Kyle Kroeker into the game.
Kroeker made fast work of the opportunity with three assists in 1:15.
Tyler Weinbrenner drilled two consecutive three-pointers and Steven Chisholm put up another quick bucket as the Bluejays erupted for 8 quick points.
A field goal from Eric Weinbrenner at the 10:18 mark capped a 10-2 run and gave the Bluejays an eight point lead.
Bethel then turned in 9-0 burst that grew into a 15-6 run that left TC behind by one with 2:16 to go in the first half.
Kent Peters then hit two free throws and a three-pointer in the final 42 seconds of the half, and Ricky Snyder’s buzzer-beating three point toss gave the Threshers an eight point lead heading into the intermission.
“We had some defensive breakdowns in critical situations, and it came out bad for us,” coach Brubacher said.
“We need to improve our team defense…our help defense has been non-existent.”
Tabor closed within three points of overtaking Bethel in the second half.
The Threshers opened second half scoring with a two that pushed their lead to 10, but Mike Willis scored four straight points to trim the lead to six.
Snyder and Willis swapped three pointers before Munroe came up with another offensive rebound stick-back to pare the lead to four at the 16:06 mark.
Bethel responded, but could not push their lead past 10.
Kroeker, Munroe and Stoeker combined for six straight points, with Stoeker’s putback at the 5:30 making it 59-55.
Munroe hit a free throw at 5:11 to cut the lead to three, but missed the second.
The miss led to another Ricky Snyder three, and 2:03 ticked away before the Bluejays answered back.
“We’ve struggled to score all year and we struggled throughout the game to find offense,” Brubacher said.
Eric Weinbrenner hit two free throws with 0:54 to go, making the score 64-60 in Bethel’s favor, but TC came no closer.
Stoeker finished with 15 points and Munroe had 13, but the team connected on just 3-of-20 three point shots. Bethel, by contrast, drilled 7-of-11 from beyond the arc–and going 4-for-4 in the second half-as part of a 47 percent (26-56) performance from the floor.
Snyder finished with 14 and Peters had 10 for Bethel.
The men’s team’s Saturday meeting with the McPherson Bulldogs in Hillsboro evened the team’s record at 1-1.
After Bethel had outscored the Bluejays 21-9 from beyond the arc, the Tabor three-point shooters outscored their McPherson counterparts 21-12, and the final score tilted 73-64 in Tabor’s favor.
The Bulldogs opened up an early five point lead, and the visitors built the lead to 9 points.
But the Bluejays closed out the half on a 20-6 run that started with Munroe and Tyler Weinbrenner alternating scoring 10 straight points in 2:38.
Munroe scored two twos on entry passes from Kroeker; Weinbrenner hit two threes on kick-outs from Stoeker, and the Bluejays had a one point lead.
After Weinbrenner’s second three made the score 22-21 with 6:08 to go, Tabor outscored McPherson 10-6 in the first half.
“Our shot selection was better and we attacked the basket effectively…when you attack the basket effectively, the three point shots become better percentage shots with more time and space to shoot them,” Brubacher said.
“We struggled again at times, through a section of the first half and then again in the second half we struggled really, really badly…but we played with more energy and-particularly-we rebounded better.”
McPherson scored four straight points to make the score 32-31 a mere 1:13 into the second half, but the Bulldogs had no answer for the inside-outside game that Tabor was playing.
Munroe hit a free throw, and a quick steal fed into another Weinbrenner three as the Bluejays scored four points in six seconds.
McPherson’s Scott Bradley answered with two of his own, but Munroe scored the next four points, and 40-33 was good for a seven point Tabor lead.
Mitch Arnett cut the lead to five, but Weinbrenner responded with his fourth three of the night, and TC led 43-35.
Weinbrenner hit his fifth three at the 10:03 mark; he followed with two free throws to give TC a ten point advantage, 53-43.
Munroe turned in another strong statistical performance from the low block, pulling down nine rebounds to go with 20 points and two steals. Willis scored 20 and Tyler Weinbrenner scored a team leading 21 points and had five assists.
Stoeker sat out the final minutes of the first half and some of the second half with foul trouble, and finished with four points, five assists and nine rebounds.
“The biggest difference between the two games for us was our effort on the boards,” Brubacher said.
Coming-the TC men’s squad packs its bags for road trips to University of St. Mary and Ottawa University. Both USM and OU are presently 0-1, with Ottawa coming off a 78-72 home loss to Friends and St. Mary trying to break out of a losing streak that covers six non-conference games. Sterling handed USM its seventh straight loss with 85-69 win on Saturday.
Tip times are set for 8 p.m. for Thursday’s the game in Leavenworth and 7 p.m. for Saturday’s game at Ottawa.