Loss vs. Saint Mary drops Jays into 2nd


Checked by a Bethel?s Scott Goering, Mike Rousell looks to pass. Rousell scored three points in Saturday?s win over the Threshers.

With a 66-59 road win over Bethel and a 65-60 home loss to Saint Mary, the Tabor College men?s basketball team split for the second straight week and now sits with a group of four 2-loss teams that trail Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference standings leader Sterling (5-1) by one game.

The Bluejays also came out on the low end of a 94-72 exhibition score Jan. 5 at Newman last week.

Bethel?Behind Zack Vanselow's 15 points, 11 rebounds double-double, the Tabor College men's basketball team upended Bethel 66-59 Saturday in North Newton.

The Bluejays spread the offense around, with 10 players finding the bottom of the net?but it was swarming team defense that ultimately carried the Bluejays to victory.

Tabor held the Threshers to under 30 percent shooting from the field, but Bethel scored 26 points at the foul line to conceal the lopsidedness of the action. Tabor shot 13-for-24 from the stripe.

?When you are defending the dribble drive offense and the officials are calling a very tight game, you will end up with Saturday night,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?It wasn’t pretty, but I am pleased with the effort on our end.?

Vanselow played the defensive tower of power role comfortably, blocking four shots outright–including a late 3-point try–and altering a multitude of others.

?Zach played a very intelligent game on both ends of the court, something we will need every night if we want to stay towards the top of the conference,? Ratzlaff said.

Tabor forced 18 turnovers, including a shot clock violation following the triple-try Vanselow swatted out of bounds with 48 seconds left in the game. Tabor led 63-56 at that point, and Bethel never closed within seven.

But early in the contest, the Threshers forced Tabor’s forwards into foul trouble and led 17-14 for a brief moment after Orson Thomas picked up his second first-half foul.

Tabor regained the edge at 20-19, and Vanselow rejected Bethel’s bid to recover.

A 2-pointer and back-to-back 3-pointers by Kyle Kroeker opened the gap to 30-19. The Bluejays led 34-26 at halftime.

Bethel closed to 36-34 early in the second half and stayed within reach until Vanselow fought through a foul to make it 48-43 with 9:34 to go. Thomas cemented the lead with consecutive layups, and Bethel never bounced back.

Kroeker scored all 12 of his points on 5-for-9 shooting in the first half, after starting the game with three straight misses.

Saint Mary?The men’s team carried a 29-25 halftime lead on the strength of 14 first half points from Zack Vanselow, but the Bluejays were unable to restrain Saint Mary’s offense in the second half of Thursday’s 65-60 home loss.

?We did a very good job defensively for 30 minutes,? Ratzlaff said. ?The last 10 minutes of the game I felt like we were not focused defensively. We did not play smart, and we started guarding non shooters and leaving the shooters wide open for easy looks.?

Tabor led by seven on Zack Vanselow’s field goal with 56 seconds left in the first half, and the Bluejays stoked that lead to 12 on the strength of a 3-pointer by Kyle Kroeker, a Vanselow 2-pointer and a traditional 3-point play by Kroeker?an 8-0 run in the first 3:31 of the second half.

But Saint Mary’s 3-point shooters caught fire and demolished Tabor’s lead with a 13-2 run over the next 2:49. The Spires pulled even on back-to-back 2-pointers by Quintin White and Carvelle Taylor.

After Aaron Whitelaw broke a 42-42 tie, Mike Rousell knocked down two foul shots for a 4-point Tabor lead?but the Bluejays scored just six points during the next 6:27.

During that same stretch, the Bluejay defense lost track of Walt Frazier, who went on a 3-point shooting spree with triples at 8:45, 7:27 and 5:35 as Saint Mary took a 56-50 lead.

?There was little execution on the offensive end, and we did not get many calls our way,? Ratzlaff said. ?Regardless of the officials, we have no excuse for the lack of motion on the offensive end. We need to get back to patience and ball reversals on offense and continue to work hard on the defensive end.?

Carvelle Taylor scored a layup-and-1 to raise the Spires? lead to seven with 3:50 to go.

Tabor closed within 61-57 as Kyle de Blonk notched five points in 25 seconds, and narrowed the gap to 61-59 on a basket by Jared Hett.

Kroeker?s free throw with 24 seconds left cut the deficit to one, but Frazier delivered the game to the Spires with a 4-for-4 showing at the foul line in the final 20 seconds.

Coming?Tabor (9-6 overall) will visit Sterling at 8 p.m. Thursday. The Bluejays will host Ottawa at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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