Tabor?s 84-79 victory at Kan?sas Wesleyan Saturday helped the Bluejays secure the No. 2 seed in the KCAC postseason tournament and end the regular season second in the conference behind Saint Mary.
?I?m glad we got our win, and I?m really proud of our seniors,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?I?m really proud of Ryan Chippeaux, Lawson Kingsley and Michael Janzen. They?ve been with me for four years, and they?ve been good leaders for the rest of our guys.?
Tabor fell behind to start Saturday?s game, with the Coyotes bursting to a double-digit, 13-3, lead five minutes into the contest.
But Tabor began to close the gap, and when the Coyotes could not hit a shot, sure-fire shooting helped the Bluejays explode with a 19-0 run to take a 28-16 lead with 6:37 left before halftime.
The Coyotes drew within seven, 28-21, at 4:15, but Tabor surged to a 43-29 halftime advantage after Jackson scored with 15 seconds left in the half.
Tabor maintained at least a 10-point margin the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Chippeaux got a dunk at 16:03 for a 54-35 Tabor lead, and Jackson followed less than four minutes later with a one-handed slam dunk that turned into a traditional three-point play when he drew a foul on the way to the basket.
A Reggie Butler three-point basket gave Tabor its largest lead of the night, 66-41, with 10:26 left to play.
But Tabor cooled a bit on offense, and Kansas Wesleyan started hitting shots and forcing Tabor turnovers to close the gap to 72-76 with 2:19 left to play.
?We got a decent-size lead, and then we gave it up,? Ratzlaff said. ? I think we just relaxed a little bit. Lack of focus equaled turnovers for us. If we can?t keep our focus, we?re in trouble.?
A three-point basket by the Coyotes brought Kansas Wesleyan within 80-77 with 25 seconds on the clock, but Tabor made free throws down the stretch to maintain the lead.
JT Nemit contributed two points from the charity stripe with 18 seconds to go, and the next Coyote shot missed its mark.
Jackson added two free throws with six seconds left for an 84-77 Tabor lead, and the Bluejays gave the Coyotes a free look at the basket at the buzzer which narrowed Tabor?s margin to five when time ran out.
Jackson came off the bench to score a game-high 30 points. Chippeaux had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Nick Sauer added 10 points.
With the win, Tabor improved to 14-4, 15-12 and claimed sole rights to second place in the conference after a Bethany win at Sterling knocked the Warriors out of the second-place tie.
Friends??Tabor and Friends entered Thursday?s matchup each with five-game winning streaks and locked in a three-way tie with Sterling for second place in the conference.
The Bluejays kept their streak alive, edging Friends by three, 59-56, to remain tied with Sterling at number two in the KCAC, with a 13-4 conference record, 14-12 overall.
The Falcons jumped to a 10-2 lead on a three-point basket three minutes into the game, but a Cameron Rust three-pointer followed by a Brent Jackson basket narrowed the gap to 10-7 with 15:44 left in the opening half.
The Falcons maintained the lead and again widened the gap to eight, 19-11, with a three-point basket at 9:56.
But Reggie Butler answered with a basket behind the arc and followed with a consecutive score to narrow the Falcon lead to 19-16 with 8:40 left in the half.
Tabor drew within 27-26 when Jackson scored at 2:40, but Friends held a 32-29 lead at the break.
?Offensively, we really struggled with (Friends) switching everything,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?The thing I like is we kept pushing the penetration in the lane.
?We kept being aggressive.?
Marc Hopkinson opened second half scoring with a basket off a steal.
Two consecutive Robbie Samuel baskets ignited an 8-0 Tabor surge that gave the Bluejays their largest lead of the night, 39-34, with 16:03 left to play.
But it was a back-and-forth battle down the stretch, and the lead changed hands 11 times in the half.
Friends? final lead, 56-54, came off a three-point basket with 4:47 left to play. But Samuel was fouled on a three-point shot and made all three free throws, giving Tabor the lead for good with 4:33 remaining.
Neither team scored the next four minutes until Samuel drained a basket with 31 seconds left to boost the Tabor margin to three, 59-56.
The Falcons missed a three-point shot with less than 15 seconds left, but a missed Tabor shot at the charity stripe kept it a one-possession game.
Friends brought the ball down court, but defensive pressure by the Bluejays forced a Falcon turnover, and Tabor held on for the three-point victory.
Samuel led all scorers with 15 points. Ryan Chippeaux recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Coming??As the No. 2 seed, the Tabor men will open postseason play Wednesday at home in a quarterfinal matchup against seventh-seeded Ottawa (9-19, 6-12). Action is set to begin at 7 p.m. Semifinal games are scheduled to follow Saturday at 7 p.m.