The Tabor College basketball teams completed their pre-Christmas schedule Tuesday night by giving their coaches and fans a pair of victories against Sterling College.
Playing without Morgan Ediger, their floor leader and top scorer who sat out with a cast on her non-shooting wrist, her Tabor teammates stepped up to fill the void by posting a surprising 22-point halftime lead and eventually a 65-55 victory.
The Tabor men, who have been on a roll of late, lost the services of a starter 28 seconds into the game when Jordan Horstick when down with a knee injury. The extent of the injury has not been determined as of this report. Horstick’s teammates stepped up as well, and managed a nine-point lead by halftime. Tabor caught fire early in the second half and rolled to a 93-76 win.
With the victories, the Tabor women improved to 7-1 in the KCAC and 9-3 for the season. Sterling slipped to 6-2 and7-4. The Tabor men improved to 6-2 and 7-5, while Sterling slipped to 1-7 and 3-10.
WOMEN—Tabor came out of the gate ready to play against their KCAC co-leaders from Sterling. Tabor built a 16-3 lead with 4:18 left in the first quarter. Tristen Leiszler scored four points and Sammy Jo Peterson five. By the end of the quarter, Tabor led 25-10.
With the score 27-15, Peterson hit a 3-pointer, Kelsey Unruh scored in the paint and Taylor Deniston hit a 3-pointer for a 35-16 lead with 5:13 left in half. A 3-pointer by Amber Bonham and then a Bonham 2-point basket with 28 seconds left gave Tabor a 42-20 halftime cushion.
The Bluejays didn’t maintain that same level of domination in the second half, but they held their own through the third quarter and maintained a 19-point lead at 60-41 when the quarter ended.
Tabor was still leading by 17 points at 65-48 with 4:00 minutes to play, when Sterling went on a 7-0 run to end the game with a 10-point deficit.
Kristyn Wedel scored 15 points to lead the Jays. Leiszler added 13 points and Bonham 10 to round out the double-digit scorers. Kylah Comley of Sterling led all scorers with 17 points.
As a team, Tabor shot 46 percent (27-58) from the floor and 50 percent (8-16) from behind the arc. Sterling managed 41 percent (23-58) from the floor and 10 percent (1-10) from 3-point land.
MEN—It wasn’t the most dynamic beginning for Tabor, but the Jays managed to build a 21-7 lead by the 11:05 mark when Jon Manjon Beristain scored in the paint. The Warriors then whittled the lead to 27-22 at the 6:12 mark. But a basket by Diontre Cutliff sparked the home team to expand the lead to 38-29 by intermission.
To start the second half, Sterling scored twice but Tabor missed two shots and committed to two turnovers out of the gate, enabling Sterling to cut the lead to 38-33.
When Julian Winton hit a 2-pointer at the 18:04 mark, Tabor suddenly began to click on the offensive end, inflating the margin to 72-47 midway through the half. Tabor’s lead was as big as 85-55 with 5:26 left in the game. The Bluejays didn’t take their foot off the pedal until the score reached 93-62 with 3:10 left. Sterling then made a 14-0 run to the final buzzer as Coach Micah Ratzlaff cleared his bench.
Winton scored 14 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. Also reaching double-digits were Isaiah Wilson with 13, Diontre Cutliff with 12 and DeShun Patterson with 10.
Tabor shot 44 percent (33-75) from the floor and 41 percent (17-41) from behind the arc. On a happier note, Tabor made 10 of 13 free throws (77 percent). Sterling shot 41 percent (25-61) from the floor, 32 percent (6-19) from behind the arc and 71 percent (20-28) from the line.
COMING—Tabor will continue its extended homestand with the return of the Holiday Classic. The Bluejay women and men will host Valley City State University Dec. 29 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively. The following day, they will host Hastings College with games starting at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.