Tabor teams prepare for nationals

Tabor College faculty, staff and students pause for prayer Monday morning as they sent off the men?s and women?s basketball teams to the 2014 NAIA Division II?National Championships. Tabor cheer coach Tony Morris led the event, which also included words from Rusty Allen, vice president of athletics; Micah Ratzlaff, men?s coach; Shawn Reed, women?s coach; and players Nick Sauer and Janelle Rust. Both teams will play in the first round Thursday.Both Tabor College basketball teams will participate in the 2014 NAIA Divi?sion II National Cham?pionships this week after winning their respective KCAC tournaments last week.

Women?Tabor will play in the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, March 12-18. The Bluejays received an automatic bid after defeat?ing Southwestern 85-51 in the KCAC finals.

As the regular-season champion, Southwestern will also represent the KCAC in Sioux City.

The Bluejays were receiving votes in the final coaches? top 25 poll and enter the field of 32 teams as one of four No. 8 seeds with a record of 21-10. They will face one of four No. 1 seeds, Northwestern (Iowa), in the first round at 1:45 p.m. Thursday.

?This is what you practice for and you play for is to be able to go to the national tournament, represent your school and your conference,? coach Shawn Reed said. ?It?s really exciting for us. We?re thrilled.

?It?s a culmination of a lot of hard work on behalf of our players, so it means a lot, and our fans mean a lot too.?

A member of the Great Plains Athletic Conference, Northwestern ranks fourth in the final coaches poll with a record of 27-4.

After ending the regular-season as co-champions with Morningside, Hastings and Concordia in the GPAC, the Red Raiders won their conference tournament.

This will be North?western?s ninth-straight appearance at nationals and 13th overall. The Red Raiders have won the title five times.

Meanwhile, this will be Tabor?s fifth appearance on the national stage. In their last appearance in 2007, the Bluejays earned a first-round victory over Cardinal Stritch University before falling to Indiana Wesleyan in the second round.

Tabor?s Nikki Lewis leads NAIA Division II in total assists (216) and assists per game (6.97). She ranks third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.77), 24th in total steals (76) and 29th in steals per game (2.45).

The Red Raiders? Paige O?Neal, meanwhile, ranks ninth in assists (163) and 14th in assists per game (5.26). Her assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.85, to rank 33rd.

As a team, Northwestern ranks third in assists per game (19.32) as well as scoring offense (89.77) and field goal percentage (47.2).

Northwestern has scored 2,783 points this season to rank fourth,while Tabor ranks 41st at 2,200.

Tabor ranks 11th in total three-point field goals made (249) while Northwestern is 35th (196). Tabor averages 8.03 three-pointers per game to rank 13th; Northwestern averages 6.32 to rank 41st.

Janelle Rust leads Tabor in scoring at just over 13 points per game with 45 percent shooting from the field. Alli Engebretson leads Northwestern with 19.3 points and 45.1 percent shooting.

Rust also leads the Bluejays in rebounding with 5.13 per game; Engebretson leads Northwestern with 7.29.

Lewis leads Tabor in assists (6.97) and steals (2.45). O?Neal leads Northwestern in assists (5.26) and Karen Hutson leads in steals (2.10).

Fans interested in attending the 32-team, single-elimination tournament may order tickets by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Links to live video-streaming may be found at:

Men?Tabor College will compete in Keeter Gymna?sium in Point Lookout, Mo., March 12-18. The Bluejays received an automatic bid by winning the KCAC tournament title.

Friends, the regular-season champion, also will represent the KCAC in Missouri.

Tabor (20-12) enters the field of 32 teams as a No. 8 seed and will face No. 1 Indiana Southeast (25-4) in the first-round at 5:45 p.m. Thursday.

?It?s something I?ve been waiting for seven years,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?I wish it would?ve happened earlier, but now it doesn?t even matter because it?s here.

?I?m really happy that my guys get to experience what I?ve been talking about (and) what Coach (Anthony) Monson?s been talking about because we?ve both been there as players, so to experience this as a coach is unbelievable.?

Indiana Southeast ranks third in NAIA Division II in the final coaches? top 25 poll.

A member of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Indiana Southeast comes into the tournament with a record of 25-4 after a loss in the KIAC championship to Cincinnati Christian, ending a 20-game win streak.

This will be the Grena?diers? seventh-straight appearance in the tournament, 10th overall.

Indiana Southeast ranks first in NAIA Division II in scoring offense per game (95.86) and second in blocks (4.72), defensive rebounds (30.07) and scoring margin (16.69).

The Grenadiers rank third in blocks (137), fourth in field goal percentage (50.6) and fifth in three-point shooting (41.0), steals (9.59) and rebounds (42.90).

Indiana Southeast ranks 11th in steals with 278, while Tabor ranks 20th with 255. The Grenadiers rank 12th in offense (2,780 points); Tabor ranks 24th (2,596). Tabor ranks 27th in steals (7.97).

Individually, Southeast?s Vernon Payne ranks 16th in blocks (45) and 18th in blocks per game (1.55). Jake Simp?son ranks 20th in free-throw percentage (84.3) and 43rd in field goal percentage (52.7). Kevin Mitchell ranks 32nd in three-point shooting (42.3) and 45th in steals (1.70).

For Tabor, Andrew Thomas ranks 15th in field goal percentage (59.6), 25th in blocks (1.35) and 26th in total blocks (39). Dewayne Biggs ranks 49th in assists (114).

Biggs averages 15.8 points per game on 46.5 percent shooting from the field to lead Tabor. Cameron Mitchell leads the Grenadiers with 15.5 points per game on 49.7 percent shooting.

Thomas leads Tabor with 7.3 rebounds per game; Payne leads Southeast with 6.5. Biggs averages 3.56 assists per game, whereas Kevin Mitchell averages 2.70. Robbie Samuel leads Tabor in steals at 1.41 per game; Kevin Mitchell leads Southeast with 1.70. Thomas averages 1.35 blocks; Payne averages 1.55.

Fans interested in attending the 32-team, single elimination tournament may order tickets by calling 417-335-NAIA (6242).

Links to live video-streaming may be found at:

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