Bluejay men split games in Tabor Classic

Andrew Thomas dunks the ball during the first half against Missouri Valley Saturday. Thomas scored 13 points in Tabor?s 76-54 loss. He contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds in Tabor?s 86-75 win over Culver-Stockton Friday. Janae Rempel / Free PressThe Tabor College men?s basketball team lost its final game of the Tabor Classic in a 76-54 loss to NAIA Division I opponent Missouri Valley Saturday.

In an uphill battle on offense, the Bluejays struggled to pass the ball and committed 22 turnovers, while shooting 34.8 percent from the field (16-46).

?We didn?t pass the ball very well,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?We got our posts involved early, and then all of a sudden, we quit passing the ball in to the post, and our guards just got guard-happy and we didn?t get the looks.

?(Missouri Valley) obviously put a lot of pressure on us. While they?re putting pressure on us and we?re shooting bad shots, they?re doing everything right on this end no matter what we try to do. I didn?t think that we defended that badly in the first half. We were just that bad on the offensive end, and we just couldn?t get any momentum.?

Missouri Valley shot 53.3 percent from the field in the first half (16-30), including 60 percent from three (6-10). Tabor, meanwhile, managed just 28.6 percent from the field (6-21), including 22.2 percent from three (2-9).

The Vikings went on to shoot 52.6 percent for the game (30-57).

With Tabor trailing 8-4 at the start, Andrew Thomas stole the ball and dunked it in transition. He followed with a second basket that tied the game. But the Vikings outscored Tabor 16-2 over the next six minutes to stake a 24-10 lead.

With a three-pointer, Malik Brooks ignited a run that closed the gap to single digits at 6:12, but the game?s leading scorer, Brad Hamilton, fired off his third of four threes in the period 10 seconds later, and Missouri Valley kept a double-digit margin en-route to a 42-24 lead at halftime.

The Vikings took their largest lead, 49-24, just more than two minutes into the half. Brooks made three three-pointers in a five-minute span, and a Thomas dunk assisted by Dewayne Biggs brought Tabor within 55-39. Chance LeBlanc and Justin Malan combined for Tabor?s next 13 points, and the Bluejays closed to 64-52 with 5:44 to play.

Missouri Valley responded with six points before Thomas and Raviel Burton traded dunks. Tabor?s final three possessions ended in miscues, and Burton polished the Vikings? win with a dunk.

Ratzlaff said the Bluejays had difficulty making the right decisions.

?We just need to stop second-guessing the decision we?re going to make, and we just need to do it,? he said. ?We need to run our offense and run our system.

?That doesn?t take away from the individual. You do things right, and at the end of the day, your skills come out and your talent comes out. You?re not going to win unless you do it as a team.?

Only four Bluejays made field goals in the game. Brooks led Tabor with 16 points. Thomas added 13.

Culver-Stockton?It was a tale of two halves in Tabor?s 86-75 victory over NAIA Division I opponent Culver-Stockton Friday.

Tabor trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half and led only once when Andrew Thomas scored the game?s first point at the free-throw line. From there, Culver-Stockton built a 12-3 lead before Dewayne Biggs drained a three-pointer, the first of six Bluejay threes in the first half. The Wildcats took their first double-digit lead, 22-11, at the 10:56 mark and extended it to 29-16 with a three at 8:09.

Trailing 36-24, a string of seven put Tabor within 36-31, but the Wildcats enjoyed a 43-35 lead at halftime.

?(Culver-Stockton) came out and switched one through five, and we don?t ever play against that or practice against that ourselves,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?We don?t switch, so it threw us off.

?At halftime I just said, ?These are some of the adjustments we?re going to make. We need to take advantage of some of the mismatches when they do switch.??

The Bluejays came out of the break on fire with a 10-2 burst that included back-to-back threes by John Jedneak and Malik Brooks and culminated in a Thomas dunk that tied the game at 45.

The teams battled neck-and-neck until Tabor took the lead for good with 13:17 left in the game. Leading 52-51, Tabor outscored the Wildcats 13-2 for a double-digit, 65-53, margin when JT Nemit hit his third three of the night at the 8:40 mark. The Bluejays kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way, maintaining a double-digit advantage to win by 11.

?Second half, we got the ball out of each other?s hands,? Ratzlaff said. ?We were moving it. We hit some early shots, which got us back into the game. JT Nemit got hot. Dewayne played really, really well. Once a couple guys hit some shots and we got rolling, then I do think we wore them down. We were able to play as deep as we needed to.

?We scored a lot more in transition, too, in the second half, which is always good.?

Ratzlaff also spoke well of his team?s defensive effort.

?When we got close to tying them or did tie it or took a one or two-point lead, we stepped on the gas defensively and put a lot of pressure on them,? he said. ?It really threw them off.?

Biggs led all scorers with 26 points. Nemit added 11, and Thomas and Brooks each scored 10. Thomas pulled down 12 rebounds as well.

Coming?Tabor (3-1, 6-9) will resume conference play at Bethel (2-2, 8-8) Thursday at 8 p.m. The Bluejays will host Kansas Wesleyan (1-3, 3-12) Saturday at 7 p.m.

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