BY JOSEPH BROWN
PHOTOS BY BRIANNA TUREK
VIDEO BY AUSTIN PENFIELD
There’s always a team that upsets a team they aren’t expected to and gets the “Cinderella story” title.
This year, that team was Tabor College of Kansas.
In the first quarterfinal match of the day, the No. 7 Tabor Blue Jays ended their tournament journey, falling to the No. 5 Briar Cliff University Chargers Chargers of Sioux City Iowa 62-53 at the Tyson Event Center.
Tabor, who upset No. 2 Marian University in the opening round, found their way to the quarterfinals after defeating No. 3 seed Southern Oregon in the second round.
However, their run would end today, partially due to a slow, cold opening to the first half.
Shooting only 28% from the floor, the Blue Jays didn’t score their first field goal until there was 8:35 left in the first half. One main reason for this could be the fact the Briar Cliff Chargers started in man to man coverage before changing mid-game to a 2-3 zone defense.
This had the biggest effect on the Blue Jay’s leading scorer Tonisha Dean, who only played 6:03 in the first half and didn’t score her first points of the game until the 17:26 mark in the second half. Taylor Hurd cleaned up the offense in the first half, leading the Blue Jays with seven points, and Tonisha Dean finally found some points in the second half, ending with a team high 11 points.
The Chargers, however, couldn’t capitalize on the Blue Jays cold opening, shooting only 34% from the floor and going 0-8 on three pointers. With such cold shooting from the arch, the Chargers found 16 of their 24 first half points from the paint.
Before the half, the Blue Jays finally found a rhythm, going on a 12-4 run in the final minutes to pull within four, 24-20.
The Chargers finally took over, shooting 33% in the second half and forced the Blue Jays to turn over the ball 25 times. In consolation, the Blue Jay’s defense was able to hold the Chargers’ leading scorer Sloane Masters to only four points on the day.
Shawn Reed, head coach of the Tabor Bluejays, said that the defense really hurt them today.
“They overload to one side and try to cut the floor in half and he does a really good job with that 2-3 zone,” Reed said. “They rotate a lot differently than a lot of zones you’ll see, and reversals are a little bit tougher, but we still struggled a little bit there.”
Reed also said that the team should still be extremely proud of their performance.
“We play a ton of NAIA DII’s. I believe in scheduling hard, I think it will make us better, but it hurts our seeding,” Reed said. “We build towards this time and it works for us. It’s hard to have perspective when you’re so disappointed. We felt like we didn’t play our best game. We won our league for the first time since 2004 and this is the first time Tabor has been in the Elite Eight, but it’s hard to hear that right now, especially from coach.”
Leading the Chargers in scoring was Jessi Corrick, who ended with 19 points on the day.
Mike Power, head coach of the Briar Cliff Chargers said that while today was a big win, Sloane Masters performance was defined by way more than just being held to scoring six points.
“Most people don’t realize this, but Sloane was up all night throwing up and went to the emergency room to get an IV before the game,” Powers said. “It would take a nuclear bomb to get her off the court.”
Powers also said after the game, Sloane’s leadership and perseverance showed through.
“I asked her after the game if she needed to go get another IV, and she said [due to playing] she was feeling a little better,” Powers said.
Even without a high scoring game from Masters, the Chargers proved they have depth they can use later on in the tournament.
The Briar Cliff Charges move on to the semifinals on Monday and will play the winner of No. 1 Concordia and No. 3 Jamestown.
Round 2, Briar Cliff (Iowa): No. 1 Davenport (Mich.) – 53 vs. No. 5 Briar Cliff (Iowa) – 55
Briar Cliff charges to Quarterfinals, defeats undefeated Panthers
Round 1, Tabor (Kan.): No. 2 Marian (Ind.) – 50 vs. No. 7 Tabor (Kan.) – 53
Tabor College Opens National Championship with Upset Win