20-0 Tabor men run the table in the KCAC

D?Marco Smith, Davaghndre Jones, Lance Carter and Jonathan Gibson react following Jordan Horstick?s late-game trey at Bethel Saturday. Tabor made 52 percent of its three-pointers (12-23) in a victory that gave the Bluejays a perfect regular season.The Tabor College men?s basketball team capped its perfect conference season with a win at Bethel Saturday, becoming the first team in KCAC history to end the regular season with a 20-0 record.

The last team to go undefeated in KCAC play was the 1995-96 Bluejays, who went 16-0 as part of a nine-member conference.

Tabor is 27-3 overall.

?It?s something special to go 20-0 and have so many close games and to be playing some of our best basketball right now,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?We?re going to keep taking it one game at a time.?

Bethel?Tabor earned its 20th conference win in a filled-to-capacity Thresher Gymnasium Saturday, 96-78.

Tabor shot the ball well all night, making 49 percent of its shots from the field (32-65), including 52 percent from three (32-65).

The Bluejays built a 12-4 lead in the game?s first five minutes, capped by an alley-oop dunk by D?Marco Smith from Lance Carter.

Bethel tied the game at 12, and the teams traded scores. Following a 23-23 tie, Davaghndre Jones scored to ignite a 7-0 run. Bethel outscored Tabor, 13-2 after that to take a 36-32 lead.

Carter scored nine of Tabor?s final 11 points in the half, including two three-pointers in the final 2:06 to help push Tabor back in front at halftime, 46-42.

The Threshers opened the second half with a three-pointer, then Tabor scored nine unanswered points, capped by a Jonathan Gibson dunk for a 10-point, 55-45 score.

The Bluejays were red-hot from beyond the arc in the second half, making eight of 10 attempts (80 percent). Malik Brooks made Tabor?s first two threes of the half in the first 5:02. D?Marco Smith got in on the action with a trey, then Brooks made his third three of the period with 12:37 to play. Smith added another trey 23 seconds later, giving Tabor a 67-56 advantage.

The Bluejays enjoyed their largest lead of the night, 88-65, after John Jedneak scored with 5:28 to play. Bethel trimmed the margin to 90-75. Smith and Jordan Horstick each drained a three in the final 2:07, giving Tabor an 18-point edge at the final buzzer.

?Anytime we?re hitting the three-ball, we?re going to be really tough,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?If we can get in any groove behind the arc, it only opens things up for Lance.?

Carter led all scorers with 25 points. He had 10 assists and eight rebounds. Brooks scored 18 points, Smith 17 and Jedneak 10.

Southwestern?In a battle of ranked teams, the seventh-ranked Bluejays defeated the No. 18 Moundbuilders in Winfield Thursday, 77-66.

Tabor came out on fire offensively, shooting a blistering 61 percent from the field in the first half (19-31), while limiting Southwestern to 36 percent (10-28).

?I thought we guarded really well, and we were pretty good on offense,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?That was a defensive game where we had to show up on the defensive end and play hard. When you play well on defense and you?re playing hard, good things happen on offense.?

D?Marco Smith scored seven of Tabor?s first nine points, including consecutive two- and three-point baskets to aid a 7-0 Bluejay run for an 11-5 lead.

Tabor maintained the lead, and built it to 10, 30-20, when Davaghndre Jones made a pair of free-throws at the 6:26 mark.

Lance Carter chipped in eight of his 10 first-half points in the final 4:51, contributing to a 42-28 Bluejay lead at intermission.

Tabor enjoyed a 16-point lead, 56-40, when John Jedneak scored at the 13:17 mark, but Southwestern made a run, drawing within 62-56 with 6:27 to play.

From there, Carter scored the next five points, then Malik Brooks drained a three-pointer and Jonathan Gibson made a two-pointer. Suddenly, Tabor?s lead was back to 16, 72-56.

The closest Southwestern got after that was within 10, 75-65, and Tabor went on to claim the 11-point win.

Carter led all scorers with 24 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the field. He had nine rebounds. Smith scored 14 points and Brooks 13.

Coming?By winning the KCAC regular season title, Tabor has earned the No. 1 seed in the KCAC tournament.

Tabor (20-0, 27-3) will host No. 8 Bethel (9-11, 11-19) in a rematch Thursday at 7 p.m. With a win, Tabor would face either No. 4 Ottawa (10-10, 14-14) or No. 5 Friends (9-11, 11-16) Saturday at 7 p.m. The other half of the bracket features No. 6 Bethany (9-11, 12-17) at No. 3 Saint Mary (11-9, 16-12) and No. 7 Oklahoma Wesleyan (9-11, 14-150 at Southwestern (15-5, 24-6).

The championship will be played at Hartman Arena Monday, Feb. 29 at 8 p.m.

As winners of the regular-season title, Tabor has already punched its ticket to the NAIA Division II National Championship in Point Lookout, Missouri, March 9-15.

Written By
More from Janae Rempel
Tabor wins thriller over Sterling
In a thrilling battle of ranked teams, the No. 12 Tabor College...
Read More