Unfriendly Falcons knock Tabor out of KCAC tourney

Up against the veterans of the Friends University team that advanced to the NAIA Division II tournament a year ago, the Tabor College men's basketball team needed a lot to go right Thursday night in Wichita. But very little went according to plan for the Bluejays, as foul trouble handcuffed both Orson Thomas and Zach Vanselow practically from the outset. The Bluejays perimeter players kept the team in the game through the first half, but a 19-4 stretch allowed the Falcons to oust Tabor from the KCAC tournament, 69-58.

Having pulled within a possession at 40-38 on a Kyle de Blonk dribble drive layup, and having missed an opportunity to knot the game when Jordan Funk's acrobatic attempt layup fell off the rim, and having had tower of power Zach Vanselow pick up his fourth personal during the Friends counterattack, the Bluejays lost control of the game.? Over the next 2:03, the Falcons outscored the Bluejays 8-2, and by the time the clock struck 6:00, Tabor was down by 17.

Tabor also put together a few stretches of very solid play on a night where lead changes were few and hard to come by. Tabor trailed 9-3 out of the gate, but rallied on the strength of efficient defense by Mike Stoeker and a handful of perimeter scores. At 9:07, Tabor knotted the game at 14-14 when Kyle de Blonk drained a 3-pointer off a pass from Stoecker, who had also notched an assist on Funk's preceding bucket.

Then Jared Hett ran down the rebound following his own miss from 3-point range, throwing in a putback for Tabor's first lead since Kyle Kroeker put the Bluejays on top 3-1 on Tabor's first possession. Friends came right back with a 3-pointer and a 17-16 advantage, but Tabor kept the Falcons on a leash for the remainder of the half.

The game may have turned out differently had Hett's last-second takeaway and long-distance heave hit home, but the Bluejays instead went to the locker room with a 28-26 deficit. Thomas knotted the game at 28-28 1:22 into the second period but was whistled for his third and fourth personals 25 seconds apart, and ended up playing 15:10, compared to his team-high season average of 28:31.

Aaron Whitelaw led the team with 13 points, and Jared Hett scored 12.

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