Tabor returns to hardwood, gets swept

The Tabor College basketball teams started the New Year with a pair of lopsided losses on their home floor. Benedictine defeated the women's team 70-60, and Central Methodist slammed the men's team 93-78 Friday night. While shaking off the rust built up during the 20-day winter break, both teams struggled through ugly first halves. Their rhythms returned as the contests continued, and each squad made it interesting in the end.

Having committed 17 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play, the women's team trailed Benedictine by a 35-21 halftime margin. Andrea Robinson had probably the slowest start, missing every shot (0-for-6) and committing five turnovers. But Robinson also had the strongest finish, scoring all of her 18 points after the intermission. Stephanie Silvas also found her range during the second half, and knocked down three of four second-half field goal attempts, including the 3-pointer that cut Benedictine's lead to four, 57-53, with 6:07 left.

Abby Winder and Kelsey Wolfe answered for the Ravens. Wolfe followed a 3-pointer at 5:18 with a 2-pointer at 3:41 and the Ravens lead grew to 63-53. Kirsten Watson?who, because of foul trouble, played only five minutes in the first half?sank a pair of foul shots, and set up Gina Hullet's layup that trimmed the lead to six. Robinson's layup made it 65-60 with 38 seconds left, but Tabor was unable to draw nearer.

Lacy Leonard effectively ended the game with a pair of foul shots with 34 seconds left, and finished with 13 points. Wolfe led the Ravens with 14, and Winder had 11. Silvas finished with 12.

The men's team sputtered out to 52-37 halftime deficit in no small part because of red-hot shooting by Matt Sherman and Jeff Blauvelt, who led Central Methodist with 25 points, and 24, respectively. Tabor rallied behind Orson Thomas, who scored 13 of his 19 points during the second half, including a pair of free throws that capped off the sequence that sent Blauvelt to the bench with 2:27 to go.

Blauvelt hammered Thomas to prevent him from scoring a short jump shot from the lane and mouthed off to an official after he was called for his third personal. Kyle Kroeker stepped to the line to shoot the free throws resulting from Blauvelt's technical?his fourth personal foul?and, uncharacteristically, Kroeker missed both. The substitution horn summoned Blauvelt to the bench, and he did not return. Thomas stepped to the line and knocked down both free throws. Thomas finished the Bluejays next possession?a fast break started by Kroeker's steal?with a 2-handed dunk off of Kroeker's bounce pass. The dunk brought Tabor within nine, 84-75, with 2:04 to go, but the Eagles finished off the game with a near-perfect performance at the foul line.

Apart from Damon Dechant and Zack Vanselow turning in dominant efforts in the post, very little went well for the Bluejays in the first half. Dechant led Tabor's scorers with 22 points and Vanselow totaled 11. In the final seconds of the first period, Kyle de Blonk sent a jolt of electricity through the home crowd by scoring a 55-foot buzzer-beater.

The Tabor women play Ecclesia Saturday at 5 p.m. and the men play Benedictine at 7 p.m. The Sterling College teams play afternoon games in Hillsboro.