The Tabor Bluejays beat Friends tonight, 59-57, with both teams fighting hard to the finish. Both teams tied the game three times and exchanged the lead three times in the last five minutes of play alone.
After Thursday night?s loss to Southwestern, Bluejays coach Shawn Winter said his team would have to work hard to match the intensity of the Friends Falcons. The Falcons definitely brought that intensity to the court tonight, but a young Bluejays team did not back down.
?I thought we responded very well,? coach Winter said. ?It doesn?t surprise me.?
The Falcons scored first, but the Bluejays responded with a quick three-pointer with 18:20 left in the half, starting off a very physical, fast-paced half.
Despite being plagued by several costly turnovers that resulted in Falcons points, the Bluejays kept up with Friends, taking a narrow lead at times and never allowing them to draw ahead more than seven points.
In a big momentum-shifting shot for the Bluejays, sophomore Whitney Polosky hit a three-pointer to narrow the Falcons? lead to four. Two free throws, a quick layup, and a long pass resulting in a layup gave Tabor back the lead, 20-18, with 7:08 left in the half. A five-point Bluejays scoring run, combining the efforts of Amy Jo Maphet, Tynan Honn, and Polosky, gave Tabor a six-point lead, 27-21, going into the locker room at the half.
Although the Bluejays still turned the ball over again a couple times at the beginning of the second half, they seemed to settle down and hit their stride.
?We addressed it at halftime,? coach Winter said, referring to the Bluejays? struggles with turnovers. ?We let the pressure get to us a bit in the first half.?
The Bluejays kept a narrow lead through the first portion of the second half, but the Falcons fought for the advantage with multiple three-point shots from stand-out Falcons? player Minta Whetstone. The 5-4 sophomore sank three three-pointers in the space of five minutes of play time, the last one tying the game, 37-37, with 14:30 left in the game.
The Bluejays responded with a triple pass play, putting the ball in the net and regaining the lead. With the Falcons ahead by seven points and the clock at 7:35, Bluejays? freshman Alexia White drove in for the layup to make it 50-45. Back-to-back three-pointers by Bluejays players Maphet and Katlyn Mary won back the lead, 51-50, with just 6:33 left in the game.
Tabor and Friends fought back and forth for the lead, tying multiple times with mere minutes left in the game. Jocelyn Cook sank an important free throw for the Bluejays, giving them a one-point lead with 1:12 left, and then junior Gina Hullet sank two baskets with mere seconds left to win the game for the Bluejays, 59-57.
?Every night?s a battle,? coach Winter said. ?You have to be ready and mentally focused?I thought we were as mentally tough tonight as we?ve been all season.?
He made a point to commend Molly Dick and Honn, saying her teammates fed off the energy Dick brought to the court and that Honn had her best game of the year.
?I thought we matured a lot tonight,? coach Winter said.
Both the Bluejays and the Falcons had players in the double digits. The Bluejays will face conference opponent Bethany College on the hardwood Thursday.