McPherson College men’s basketball coach Tim Swartzendruber doesn’t need any more proof that Tabor is the class of the KCAC this year.
He’s seen more than enough in three games.
The regular-season champion Bluejays were nearly perfect Wednesday night in ending the Bulldogs’ season with a 92-64 loss in the first round of the KCAC Postseason Tournament.
Tabor had fire coming out of its fingertips, making 35 of 56 shots, including 10 of 18 from 3-point. What was a competitive 59-51 game with 10 minutes remaining took on a rout the rest of the way as the Bluejays ramped it up for 33 points to 13 for Mac to display their finishing kick.
Swartzendruber, whose Bulldogs made nationals every year from 2010 to 2013, wouldn’t be surprised to see Tabor make some national noise since it already has qualified by winning the regular-season title.
“I think they can make a run, I really do,” said Swartzendruber, whose team finished the year with a 10-21 record that included a passel of close losses. “They’ve been susceptible to giving up points, maybe they’re not just as tough defensively although you’ve got Andrew Thomas in there who can clean up a lot of mistakes in the middle. I would be surprised if they don’t win the first few rounds.”
The Bulldogs were down only 37-31 at the half despite shooting just 35 percent to 60 for the Jays, who made 15 of 25. TJ Grant and Darius Hill kept Mac in the game with 24 of the Bulldogs’ points.
Tabor quickly pushed it to 55-35, but Co-Freshman of the Year Louis Parker III started to cook for Mac, as it went on a 16-4 run to slice it to 59-51, but the rally gassed the Bulldogs and they had nothing left.
Parker came off the bench to score all 15 of his points in the second half. Grant finished with 19 for the game, while Hill had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The freakishly athletic 6-7 Thomas had a jaw-dropping performance. He had four dunks in the first half alone and finished with 30 points, making 14 of 15 shots. Dewayne Biggs came off the bench for 23, as a Tabor assistant coach said he was driven by not making the KCAC team that was announced earlier in the day. Rugged John Jedneak scored 15 and versatile guard Lance Carter took only three shots, but dished off for 12 assists.
Mac must replace seniors Grant, Hill and Derek Bevan, all starters. Swartzendruber said priority No. 1 is finding some size on the recruiting trail, as the Bulldogs return a bevy of perimeter players.
Mac (64) — Hill 11, Bevan 4, Grant 19, Crook 4, Henson 3, Berry 4, Parker 15, Martinez 4.
Tabor (92) — Thomas 30, Carter 6, Jedneak 15, Nemit 6, Brooks 5, Biggs 23, Rice 3, Arck 1, Horstick 3.
• KCAC TOURNAMENT •
Tabor 92, McPherson College 64
Friends 64, Southwestern 53
Sterling 87, Bethany 82, OT
Saint Mary 85, Ottawa 83
• Saturday’s Games •
Friends at Tabor
Sterling at Sant Mary
• Monday’s Game
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m., Hartman Arena