TC men pop St. Mary, claim first in KCAC

The Tabor College men defeated fellow conference contender Saint Mary on the road Saturday, 68-65, to edge the Spires for the top spot in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Tabor improved to 8-2 in the KCAC and 14-5 overall, while St. Mary fell to 7-3 and 14-8.

?It was crazy,? Tabor coach Micah Ratzlaff said about the game. ?It was good to get the win.?

He said the Bluejays struggled in the first half, especially defensively. It?s unusual for the Bluejays to struggle at defense, Ratzlaff said, but the long drive may have caught up with them.

Ratzlaff said the Spires? Brandon Coleman had a strong first half, contributing to the 40-31 lead the Spires had over the Bluejays at intermission.

?We had our talk at halftime and we came out and we gave up 25 points in the second half,? Ratzlaff said. ?Kyle Wallace did a really good job on Coleman in the second half. We just kept plugging away.?

The Bluejays scored 37 points in the half, aided by a strong performance from Ryan Chippeaux.

?Ryan Chippeax came out and lit up the game for us,? Ratzlaff said.

?Late in the game, we were really moving the ball well and putting us in a position to score,? he said. ?It was a football match and we survived. We?re tough enough to go on the road and get those games.?

Chippeax led the Bluejays with 18 points, and teammates Damon Dechant and Lofton Kingsley also scored in the double digits, with 16 and 12 points, respectively.

Coleman scored 25 points to lead Saint Mary.

Bethany?Tabor won convincingly at home Thursday, defeating Bethany, 69-55, and keeping the Bluejays tied with Saint Mary for the top spot in the conference.

?I felt like the entire team stepped up tonight,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?These guys play together, they play hard and they play for each other. So when they do that, they?re special.?

Damon Dechant scored the first points of the night for Tabor. The Bluejays increased their lead with an eight-point scoring spree in last part of the first half.

Michael Janzen drove for a layup with 13 minutes left and Max Frise made a basket off an assist from Gavin Serene. A pass from Frise to Janzen resulted in points to make the score 21-7.

With just over seven minutes left, the Swedes staged a comeback and drew within four, 25-21, but Lawson Kingsley hit a three-pointer to widen the gap for the Bluejays.

Tabor led, 38-29, as the teams headed to the locker room.

The Bluejays hung on to their lead early in the second half, earning baskets inside and making layups to maintain a comfortable margin.

A rash of fouls and free throws hit both teams with around seven minutes to go.

The Swedes hit four of four free throws and the Bluejays hit one of two to make the score 57-46.

Frise drove to the basket with six minutes left to extend the Bluejay lead to 13 points, but Austin Evans of the Swedes responded with a three-pointer.

Aaron Magee scored back-to-back baskets for Tabor and then Ryan Chippeaux powered to the basket to make it 67-54 with 2:30 left.

Tabor?s Kyle Wallace hit two free throws with 38 seconds left to make the final 14-point margin.

?I just felt like our guards were really good defensively tonight,? Ratzlaff said. ?As a team they played well, but I thought it started with our guards and trickled down.?

Ratzlaff was pleased to see Damon Dechant score 14 points for Tabor after returning to action last Saturday following an injury.

?Damon?s not even close to 100 percent yet,? Ratzlaff said. ?He?s got the ability to dominate.?

Dylan Clark-Kaneable also scored 14 points for Tabor. Haydon Parks was the only Swede in double digits, with 15 points.

Coming?The Bluejays are scheduled to play Sterling on the road Thursday, followed by Kansas Wesleyan at home Saturday.

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