Bluejay women win tourney title

Kayla Wilgers draws a foul during the first quarter in the championship game with Ottawa. She made one of two free throws to give the Bluejays an early, 10-7 lead. Wilgers scored seven points in Tabor's 59-53 win.The top-seeded Tabor College women?s basketball team won the KCAC tournament championship by defeating No. 6 Ottawa, 59-53, Monday.

Both teams struggled offensively early, and the game remained close. Tabor led by three, 14-11, at the end of the first quarter.

The Bluejays gained a bit of distance in the second quarter, building a 22-16 advantage when Taylor Deniston followed a Tena Loewen two-pointer with a three-point basket at the 4:05 mark.

However, Tabor did not score again until Kaleigh Troxell made a trey with 28 seconds left in the half, giving the Bluejays a slight edge, 25-22, at halftime.

The teams traded scores after intermission. Amber Bonham drained a trey to give Tabor a 34-28 cushion, but Ottawa scored eight unanswered points to take the lead, 36-34.

Tabor trailed at the final break, 40-38.

The Bluejays found their stride in the fourth quarter. Fueled by a stifling defense, Tabor outscored Ottawa 14-2 to build a double-digit lead, 52-42. Ottawa scored its first field goal of the period with 1:42 left in the game. By that time, Tabor was firmly in control and went on to win by six.

Loewen led the Bluejays with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Reid had 10 rebounds to add to her nine points.

Tabor 67, Southwestern 45

KCAC Semifinals, Saturday

Tabor?s victory over the No. 4 Moundbuilders came just nine days after South?western handed the Blue?jays their first and only regular-season conference loss.

Coach Shawn Reed again acknowledged the disappointment at the missed opportunity for a perfect regular season but was quick to add the team?s goals remain unaffected.

?Going 20-0 was not something that we ever talked about as one of the destinations we wanted to hit,? he said. ?Everything that we still want to accomplish is intact.?

Through three quarters, the score remained close, but Tabor buckled down in the fourth quarter to squelch any chance of another upset.

The game was close at the start, and Southwestern enjoyed a 15-12 lead at the first break.

Tabor outscored the ?Builders, 16-10, in the second quarter, edging Southwestern 10-4 in the first 6:42.

Loewen scored four of Tabor?s final six points, putting Tabor in front, 28-25, at halftime.

The Bluejays led by as many 32-25 early in the third quarter, but Southwestern regained the lead, 37-35. Ediger drained a trey, and the Bluejays extended their lead to 45-38 heading into the final quarter.

Southwestern scored nine seconds into the fourth period, but did not score another field goal until the 1:04 mark.

The Bluejays led, 48-42, with 7:31 to play. Over the next 5:49, Tabor went on a 15-0 run. Five Bluejays contributed, led by Deniston with five points and Ediger with four.

By the time Loewen added a pair of free-throws with 1:42 to play, Tabor?s lead was 63-42. Southwes?tern broke its scoring drought with a free-throw at the 1:30 mark. The Bluejays made all four free-throws they attempted in the final 1:12.

?We?re not really into revenge, but we wanted to play well,? Reed said.

Tabor?s freshman guards led the scoring effort as Ediger scored 15 points, and Deniston 11. Loewen added 10 points.

Tabor 74, Kan. Wesleyan 68

KCAC Quarterfinals, Wednesday

The Bluejays led, 21-16, at the end of the first quarter. Nine of Kansas Wesleyan?s first-quarter points were from three-pointers. The Coyotes trimmed Tabor?s lead a bit to 39-30 at halftime.

Kansas Wesleyan outscored the Bluejays, 21-18, in the third quarter. The Coyotes used a 7-2 run to trim their deficit to four, then cut it to 45-42.

Morgan Ediger responded with a pair of threes to push Tabor?s lead to nine. The Coyotes ended the period with a three-point play, making it 57-51 at the final break.

Kaleigh Troxell scored Tabor?s first six points of the fourth quarter to help Tabor reclaim a double-digit lead.

The Bluejays led, 69-58 with 55 seconds left, but over the next 22 seconds and hung on for the win.

Troxell led the Bluejays with 12 points. Loewen had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Two Coyotes accounted for 45 of Wesleyan?s 68 points: Jenna Farris led all scorers with 28 points. Karlie Steinle added 17.

The Coyotes were without three of their players, including two starters, as a result of an internal team matter, according to a statement from the college.

?I think it made them better,? Reed said. ?It?s kind of like when somebody gets hurt and everybody rises up. The most dangerous animal is a wounded animal.?

Coming?Tabor will compete at the NAIA Division II national championship in Sioux City, Iowa, March 9-15. The bracket was to be released today. Follow hillsborofreepress.com for details.

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