TC breaks Spires to secure quartfinal berth

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The Tabor College men?s basketball team came within a millimeter of dodging a play-in game in this week?s Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament.

But an unlucky bounce on the last shot at Kansas Wesleyan left Tabor trailing 72-71 at the buzzer, setting up Monday?s meeting with Saint Mary in Hillsboro.

Tabor scored 44 points in the second half of a 57-44 win over the Spires on Monday. Tabor defeated Sterling 64-60 Thursday.


Saint Mary

Trailing 28-13 after the first half, the Bluejays knocked the Spires lead to dust in the first 10:20 of the second half.

Mike Rousell set up back-to-back baskets at 9:40 and 9:10, the second of which gave Aaron Whitelaw a layup at the tail end of a fast break and gave Tabor its first lead since a 4-3 advantage early on.

Whitelaw did not score in limited action before intermission, but shredded the Saint Mary defense with 14 points and six assists after intermission.

The Spires grabbed the lead right back with a basket by Brian LaTorre and a pair of foul shots by Winston Frazier.

The lead pinballed until 3:47 remained, when Kyle Kroeker scored a layup assisted by Zach Vanselow.

Vanselow then nailed an unguarded mid-range jumper at 3:11, with Whitelaw gaining an assist on the lightning-quick ball reversal.

Whitelaw added two more assists in a flash, spotting Kroeker open at 3-point range at 2:42 and zipping a no-look laser to Vanselow for an uncontested layup with 2:04 to go.

Kroeker added a pair of foul shots and a press-breaking layup on the receiving end of a 50-foot lead pass from Whitelaw.

Kroeker finished with 15 points. Thomas scored 14 and added 12 rebounds in his eighth double-double of the season.


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Tabor guard Jordan Funk draws a foul in the first half of Saturday?s 72-71 loss at Kansas Wesleyan. Funk made both free throws.

Kansas Wesleyan

Mike Stoecker gave the Bluejays a 13-point lead with 6:48 left in the first half, finishing a fast-break layup with an ?and-one? free throw.

The Coyotes outscored Tabor 18-4 to take a 33-32 lead on a 3-pointer by aptly named guard Trey Sims.

Jordan Funk then knocked down a pair of foul shots, giving Tabor a 34-33 lead at halftime.

The lead changed hands again 58 seconds into the final period of the regular season, and Tabor took it right back on back-to-back baskets by Kyle Kroeker and Aaron Whitelaw.

The Bluejays led by seven points six times during the half.

Kyle DeBlonk made it 48-41 with a free throw at 11:47 and Lance Baar made it 50-43 with a putback at 10:14.

Mike Rousell made it 53-46 with a layup-and-1 at 9:28, and Whitelaw made it 59-52 with a 3-pointer at 6:49. Orson Thomas hit a pair of foul shots for a 62-55 lead at 5:50, and Baar made it 64-57 with 4:58 left.

A 9-2 Coyote run capped when Sims scored a layup to cut the Bluejay lead to 66-64 with 1:18 to go.

Then Mychel Henderson, who scored five points during the run, was called for two technical fouls during a scuffle under Tabor?s offensive glass, and was ejected from the game with 59 seconds remaining.

Whitelaw buried all four free throws, but Henderson?s replacement notched two bonus foul shots. Tabor led 70-67 when the dust settled, and went up 71-67 on a foul shot with 24 seconds left.

Tony Boone scored a 3-pointer with six seconds to go, and Sims gave the Coyotes a 72-71 lead with a layup.

With 0.7 seconds remaining, Tabor?s 60-foot inbounds pass was picked off by a leaper who landed out of bounds, leaving the Bluejays 0.3 seconds to work with.

Inbounding the ball from the offensive side of half court, Tabor cleared a space inside the arc above the lane for Kroeker and his catch-and-shoot jumper would have counted had it gone in.

But the ball did not cooperate, bouncing several times atop the cylinder before falling off.

Whitelaw scored 15 points, Thomas scored 13 and Jared Hett bagged 10.

Sims led all scorers with 20 points. Henderson (16) and Willie McCarty (10) both reached double-digits for Kansas Wesleyan.

Sterling?Aaron Whitelaw scored 21 points including a handful of late foul shots. But none of his shots were as big as the 3-pointer he drained with 7:08 left, snapping a 49-49 tie.

Before the tie breaker, Tabor had allowed five straight points at the end of a 25-15 stretch that wiped out a 34-24 halftime lead.

Sterling scored back-to-back-to-back field goals to claim a 55-52 advantage, their first since a 4-3 lead the Warriors had taken to start the game.

Down three with 3:48 left, Whitelaw cut it to 55-54 with a breakaway layup after swiping the ball from freshman point guard Zach Goodrich after a Sterling time out. 

Sterling scored a foul shot at the other end, but Kyle Kroeker gave the Bluejays the lead for good.

After Orson Thomas ran down a loose ball on a broken play, he shoveled a pass to Kroeker, who dialed up a 3-pointer from the left wing corner, making it 57-56 in Tabor's favor and bringing down a thunderous roar of approval from the home crowd.

Tabor forced a turnover on Sterling?s subsequent possession, and Whitelaw scored a dribble-drive layup that pushed the Bluejay lead to three. He outscored the Warriors 4-1 at the foul line as the game ground to a halt.

With 16 seconds left, Caleb Good threw in a make on the back end of a double-bonus trip to the line to render a traditional 3-point play by a Sterling guard moot.

Jared Hett notched 11 points before fouling out in the final minute.

Coming?Monday?s win set the stage for Tabor to face Friends (12-6) 7 p.m. Thursday in Wichita. The semifinal round pits the winner of Thursday?s game against the winner of the Kansas Wesleyan-McPherson quarterfinal.

The semifinal winner will meet either first-seeded Ottawa, Southwestern, Sterling, Bethany or Bethel. Any loss would be the final game of the season.

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