The Tabor College men completed their pre-Christmas schedule with another second-half scoring surge that fueled a 93-76 win over Sterling on Tuesday.
But it came at a price.
The Bluejays, now riding a six-game winning streak, lost the services of a key starter 28 seconds into the contest when Jordan Horstick when down with a knee injury. The extent of the injury had not been determined by press time.
It was a gut-check night for fallen heroes. Even as the women’s team overcame the loss of their leader, Morgan Ediger, Horstick’s teammates stepped up to fill the void in their lineup.
It wasn’t the most dynamic start for Tabor, but the Jays established a 10-2 lead in the first 3:42, but managed only a 3-point basket by Isaiah Wilson over the next 4:18 while missing seven shots.
Kyle Baker broke the drought with a 3-pointer at the 12-minute mark, followed by a 3-pointer by Diontre Cutliff, a basket in the paint by Beristain and another basket by Cutliff for a 21-7 lead with 10:12 left in the half.
The Warriors whittled the lead to 27-22 over the next six minutes. But another basket by Cutliff sparked the home team to expand the lead to 38-29 by intermission.
“The first 20 minutes wasn’t great, but I thought we defended all right,” coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “(Sterling) didn’t hit a lot of threes in the first half.”
Ratzlaff credited Sterling’s “soft” man-to-man and zone defenses for his team’s scoring lags.
“That’s what they’ve been doing,” Ratzlaff said. “It’s kind of scary, but we went in with a good mentality—just keep playing, keep passing the basketball.”
Sterling started the second half with back-to-back scores. Meanwhile, Tabor missed two shots and committed two turnovers, enabling Sterling to cut the lead to 38-33.
When Julian Winton hit a 2-pointer at the 18:04 mark, Tabor began to click on the offensive end, outscoring Sterling 34-14 for a 72-47 lead midway through the half.
Tabor led by as much as 85-55 Alan Urrutia hit a three with 5:26 left. The Bluejays didn’t take their foot off the pedal until the score reached 93-62 with 3:10 remaining. Sterling then launched a 14-0 run to the final buzzer.
Winton scored 14 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. Wilson contributed 13, Cutliff 12 and DeShun Patterson 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 was led by a pair of impressive freshmen, JaMiah Windom-Haynes with 25 points and Kody Crosby with 24.
As a team, Sterling shot 41 percent (25-61) from the floor, 32 percent (6-19) from behind the arc and 71 percent (20-28) from the free-throw line.
Coming——Tabor will continue its extended homestand with the start of its annual Holiday Classic. The men will host Valley City State University Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. The following day, the Bluejays will host Hastings College with a 7 p.m. tip-off.