Tabor men win twice in OT

Malik Brooks shoots for three at Bethel Thursday. Brooks made four threes, including the tying basket at the end of regulation, and was Tabor?s leading scorer in an 86-80 overtime win. Saturday, Brooks led all scorers with 18 points in Tabor?s 72-69 overtime win over the Coyotes. Janae Rempel / Free PressHaving won in overtime two evenings prior, the Tabor College men?s basketball team again found a way to win in overtime, this time in a 72-69 victory over Kansas Wesleyan.

At halftime, the Bluejays trailed by 16 after the Coyotes shot 52.2 percent from the field (12-23) in the first half, including 66.7 percent from three (6-9). Tabor shot just 39.3 percent (11-28).

?(Kansas Wesleyan) hit a bunch of shots in that first half,? coach Micah Ratzlaff said. ?They came out really shooting the ball well, and it really knocked us down on our own home floor. But (we) did a good job of coming back.?

The Bluejay offense struggled to find its stride against the Coyote zone, and Kansas Wesleyan took the lead and built it to 10, 33-23, at the 3:42 mark. From there, the Coyotes outscored Tabor, 9-3, for a 42-26 halftime lead.

?Our ball-movement was really good in the first half, but we didn?t penetrate the zone at all,? Ratzlaff said. ?The only time we penetrated the zone would be with a high-post pass, and every once in awhile, we got it down to the low post. Other than that, it was deep threes. Luckily, Malik hit a couple early, but then we just got stuck. So I made some adjustments at halftime, overloaded the zone, and it opened up everything.?

Tabor began whittling away at the deficit. Brooks made his sixth three of the night with 15:51 left, bringing Tabor within 44-33.

Tabor cut the lead to 48-46, then Dewayne Biggs and John Jedneak combined for three consecutive scores, pushing Tabor in front, 52-50, with 4:49 left in the game. At that point, Tabor had doubled its halftime score, outscoring the Coyotes 26-8 since the break.

The teams battled to a 59-59 tie with 1:29 to play, but the Coyotes drained a three-pointer with 21.5 seconds to go. Tabor?s first three-point attempt missed its mark, but Biggs grabbed the rebound and launched a three from the corner. The basket fell in, tying the game at 62 with just 2.5 seconds left. The Coyotes? attempt at a game-winning shot at the buzzer missed its mark.

In overtime, Tabor used a 7-2 run to take a 69-64 lead after Thomas scored a three-point play with 2:01 to go. The Coyotes added a pair of free throws, then Jedneak made a second-chance basket to push Tabor?s lead back to five with 16.3 seconds left.

A three-pointer brought the Coyotes within 71-69 with 6.4 left, then Tabor missed two free throws. Kansas Wesleyan, however, could not secure the ball, and Thomas grabbed the ball and was fouled. He made one of two charity shots with less than one second remaining, sealing the Tabor victory.

Ratzlaff listed a number of contributing factors to the Bluejays? second-half success, including cutting down on turnovers, playing tough defense and increased rebounding.

Brooks led all scorers with 18 points. Thomas had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jedneak added 12 points, and Biggs 11.

Bethel?Tabor earned an overtime victory on the road Thursday, 86-80. Despite the win, coach Micah Ratzlaff saw room for improvement.

?I really felt like they just out-toughed us, without a doubt,? he said. ?We had a chance to maybe take off a couple times, and then we couldn?t get a rebound or they?d shoot until they made it, and that isn?t good enough. We?ve got to play better than that if we?re going to keep winning.?

In the game?s first six minutes, Tabor led by as many as four and Bethel led by six. but Bethel responded with a 12-1 run for its largest lead of the night, 33-25.

Tabor had regained the lead, 38-35, but Bethel rallied for a 42-41 halftime margin.

Late in the second half, with an opportunity to tie the game, Tabor missed a pair of free throws at 1:10. Neither team scored until Bethel made one of two free throws with 11 seconds left to increase its lead to three.

The Bluejays grabbed the rebound, and as time expired, Malik Brooks released one final shot. The three-pointer fell through the net to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, after the teams traded scores, Brooks drained a three to put Tabor in front for good, 79-76, with 2:07 to play. JT Nemit made five of six attempts from the charity stripe in the final 1:04, and Tabor enjoyed its largest lead of the night at the end, 86-80.

?I thought JT was really good down the stretch, and obviously Malik hit some big shots for us. It was a team effort.?

Brooks led Tabor with 21 points. Nemit added 15.

Coming?Tabor (5-1, 8-9) will host Bethany (5-1, 13-4) Thursday at 8 p.m. and will travel to Sterling (2-4, 7-10) Saturday for a 7 p.m. game.

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