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Tabor upsets Friends men, women in KCAC semifinals

  • Eagle correspondent
  • Published Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 8:39 p.m.

For 17 long minutes, Tabor center Andrew Thomas sat on the bench and watched his teammates struggled against No. 24 Friends in the first half of their KCAC Tournament semifinal Saturday afternoon.

But the two quick fouls that handcuffed him early didn’t limit him in the second half in Tabor’s 90-81 win to advance to Monday’s conference championship game against second-seed Sterling.

Top-seeded Friends, which led by three at halftime, had no answer for Thomas once he returned to the game. The 6-foot-7 center scored 30 points, added nine rebounds and dominated the paint with a 10-for-14 effort from the field.

“It was hard being on the bench, but it kind of motivated me,” Thomas said. “I had a chance to watch the game, see some mistakes that were made and know what I had to do when I got back in there.”

Falcons senior Joe Mitchell, who led the NAIA in scoring at 32.5 points, surpassed the 1,000-point mark for the season midway through the second half. But his 40 points weren’t enough to stop Tabor’s presence in the post.

Thomas scored eight points before heading to the bench with two fouls with 16:52 left in the first half of a game tied at 8. Friends led by as much as five in the first half with Thomas on the bench.

“He’s been there before,” Tabor coach Micah Ratzlaff said. “And I’m not putting that on the officials. It’s just that teams are going to go at him, and if they can catch him off-balance they can get him.”

Burt Friends failed to take full advantage of Thomas’ absence. The Falcons led by three at halftime but lost it less than five minutes into the second half, when Thomas grabbed one of his five offensive rebounds and scored for a 39-37 lead. Tabor led the rest of the way as Thomas went on to score 22 second-half points.

“We did not match in the lane by the dribble or by the post-up game,” Friends coach Dale Faber said. “They out-toughed us, out-smarted us, out-coached us.”

Tabor freshman forward Lance Carter tallied 16 points and seven rebounds, and the Bluejays also got a spark from senior guard Marc Hopkinson, who came off the bench to hit 3 of 6 three-pointers and finish with 12 points while the rest of his team went 0 for 11 from the three-point line.

“Hopkinson hasn’t played a ton this year,” Ratzlaff said. “But in the last month he’s given us that shooter we’ve needed.”

Nearly half of Mitchell’s offense came from the free-throw line. The senior guard went 10 for 21 from the field and made 1 of 6 three-point attempts but converted on 19 of 24 foul shots.

Mitchell’s 1,000 points this season came in 32 games.

“We’re going to the national tournament, and I don’t want to see the player that’s better than Joe Mitchell,” Faber said. “He comes every day wanting to win basketball games. That’s the kind of player he is.”

The game’s final four minutes turned into a free-throw contest as Friends tried to extend it for as long as possible, but Tabor hit 22 of 27 second-half foul shots. Only one Bluejay missed more than one free throw, and Thomas led the way with a 10 for 10 effort.

“That was the longest four minutes ever,” Ratzlaff said.

Tabor will advance to the conference championship game with an automatic bid to the national tournament on the line. Friends will await a likely at-large bid to the national tournament.

TABOR: Thomas 10-14 10-10 30, Biggs 3-9 3-7 9, Nemit 0-2 0-0 0, Smith 5-9 1-2 11, Rust 0-1 0-0 0, Dudgeon 0-0 1-2 1, Hopkinson 3-6 3-4 12, Samuel 2-5 4-4 8, Carter 6-10 4-4 16, Sauer 0-2 3-4 3.

FRIENDS: Nelson 2-7 1-2 5, Mitchell 10-21 19-24 40, Simmonds 0-1 0-0 0, Wilson 0-5 0-0 0, Williams 1-2 0-0 3, White 8-10 1-4 17, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Durham 2-2 0-0 5, Rausch 1-5 9-9 11.

Halftime – Friends 33, Tabor 30. Three-pointers – Tabor 3-17 (Biggs 0-2, Nemit 0-2, Smith 0-2, Rust 0-1, Hopkinson 3-6, Carter 0-3, Sauer 0-1); Friends 3-18 (Nelson 0-2, Mitchell 1-6, Wilson 0-4, Williams 1-1, Durham 1-1, Rausch 0-4). Rebounds -- Tabor 37 (Thomas 9), Friends 31 (White 11). Assists – Tabor 15 (Samuel 6, Carter 6), Friends 14 (Nelson 3, Mitchell 3, Williams 3). Fouls – Tabor 25, Friends 26.

Sterling 89, Bethany 77

BETHANY: McLin 7, Idris 12, Abad 7, Smith 1, Hawkins 16, Bieberle 16, Hayes 4, Roybal 14. Totals 27-69 (6-24) 17-26 77.

STERLING: Adesodun 13, Alexander 17, Green 4, Thompson 17, Givens 9, Swank 8, Dower 6, T. Smith 10, Starks 4, B.J. Smith 1. Totals 33-66 (6-23) 17-24 89.

Halftime — SC 36, BC 36. 3s — BC 6-24 (Bieberle 3, Hawkins, Abad, Idris), SC 6-23 (Givens 2, Swank 2, Alexander, Adesodun). Rebounds — BC 42 (Idris 8), SC 44 (Alexander 10). Assists — BC 9 (Abad 4), SC 15 (Alexander 5).

Tabor women 56, Friends 53 — Janelle Rust’s seventh three-pointer was rushed and off-balance, but it also won the game. Rust hit the big shot with 3.7 seconds left to give visiting Tabor a berth in Monday’s championship game.

Tabor meets Southwestern in Monday’s championship game at Hartman Arena.

Friends controlled the game early when four starters scored before a single Tabor basket. The Falcons, who beat Tabor in both regular-season meetings, led 11-0 four minutes in.

“We’ve always had that problem, especially here,” Tabor coach Shawn Reed said of the slow start. “We just decided, when that happens, we’re not going to panic. And I saw a different look in our eyes tonight. We were ready.”

Rust was held to just five points and a single three in the first half, but Tabor managed to cut the lead to three by halftime. The senior guard scored 20 in the second half and went 6 for 8 from the three-point line for a game-high 25 points.

“She tore her ACL with five games to go last year, and it’s been a grind for her this year,” Reed said. “We don’t need her to be the player she was last year. We just need her to be the player she was tonight.”

Tabor point guard Nikki Lewis added seven points, and the last of her five rebounds came on the offensive end and set up Rust for the game-winning shot.

Kayla Mollere led Friends with 12 points and eight rebounds. Sarah Munds added 11 points, and Shann Sellers had 10.

TABOR: Lewis 2-10 3-3 7, Wilgers 2-5 0-0 6, Dean 0-2 0-1 0, Paust 2-4 1-2 5, Zuercher 2-8 0-0 6, Rust 8-15 2-3 25, Loewen 2-3 0-0 4, Troxell 1-7 0-0 3.

FRIENDS: Sanders 0-1 0-0 0, Sellers 5-5 0-0 10, Atherton 1-1 0-0 2, Winningham 1-2 1-1 3, Bartelds 1-4 0-0 3, Ptacek 2-4 2-4 6, Justice 1-6 0-0 3, Steffenson 1-5 1-1 3, Munds 3-5 5-7 11, Mollere 5-10 2-3 12.

Halftime – Friends 29, Tabor 26. Three-pointers – Tabor 12-30 (Lewis 0-4, Wilgers 2-4, Dean 0-1, Zuercher 2-6, Rust 7-11, Troxell 1-4); Friends 2-11 (Bartelds 1-3, Ptacek 0-1, Justice 1-5, Steffenson 0-2). Rebounds -- Tabor 30 (Rust 5, Lewis 5), Friends 34 (Mollere 8). Assists – Tabor 16 (Lewis 8), Friends 13 (Justice 4). Fouls – Tabor 15, Friends 14.

Southwestern 85, KWU 76

KANSAS WESLEYAN: Cassity 25, Kresin 18, A. Smith 12, Greving 10, Steinle 8, Wilson 3. Totals 23-62 (7-27) 23-28 76.

SOUTHWESTERN: Bryan 23, Reichenberger 10, Shaffer 9, Je. Hobbs 2, Zoglmann 2, Rickey 11, Lovell 8, Rieger 7, Jo. Hobbs 6, Tennyson 5, Bleumer 2. Totals 26-58 (5-14) 28-39 85.

Halftime — SC 51, KWU 36. 3s — KWU 7-27 (Cassity 3, Kresin, A. Smith, Steinle, Wilson), SC 5-14 (Bryan, Rickey, Rieger, Jo. Hobbs, Tennyson). Rebounds — KWU 30 (Cassity 5), SC 48 (Bryan 11). Assists — KWU 15 (Wilson, Cassity 3), SC 18 (Shaffer 7).

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