The Bethel College men’s basketball team had a decent first half against Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference leader Sterling, but turnovers and poor shooting in the second half led to the Thresher’s undoing on senior night.


The Bethel College men’s basketball team had a decent first half against Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference leader Sterling, but turnovers and poor shooting in the second half led to the Thresher’s undoing on senior night.

Sterling pulled away in the second half for a 63-49 win. Coupled with Friends’ 71-67 win over Tabor, Sterling clinched the KCAC regular-season title and a trip to Point Lookout, Mo., in suburban Branson, for the NAIA Division II National Tournament.

“We played a good first half,” Bethel coach Mark Yoder said. “The second half was night and day. The decision making in terms of shot selection and in taking care of the ball killed us. After the way we played the first half, the way we played in the second half just didn’t make sense.”

Cody Brazelton led Sterling with 18 points, hitting eight of 12 from the field. Zach Poole scored 13 points and Trent Stutzman scored 12 points. Sterling improves to 17-10 overall, 13-4 in conference play.

Bethel was led by Jason O’Brien and Chip Schneider with 13 points each. Matt Regier had 10 rebounds. Regier and O’Brien are the Threshers’ two seniors.

“O’Brien is our most consistent outside threat,” Yoder said. “Teams have really been riding him and giving him a tough time. It’s tough for him to get an open look. They’re getting physical, and he’s been getting banged up.”

Bethel was 18 of 62 from the field, nine of 34 in the second half. Sterling was 24 of 49 shooting, 13 of 24 in the second half. Bethel had 20 turnovers to 17 for the Warriors.

“With a team like Sterling, when you make a mistake, they make you pay for it,” Yoder said.

Bethel trailed early, but never by more than three points. A Jovan Wilhoite trey put Bethel up 15-9 with 8:27 left in the first half. Sterling took advantage of Thresher turnovers for a 10-2 run.

Sterling led by as many as six late in the half. A Jason O’Brien trey got Bethel within two in the final minute. Goodrich hit a trey at the buzzer to put Sterling up 28-23 at the half.

Bethel opened the second half with an O’Brien trey, but Sterling replied with a run to lead by as many as eight. O’Brien broke the run with a trey.

More turnovers allowed Sterling to get up by as many as 19.

Bethel ends the regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday at Kansas Wesleyan. The winner gets the eighth and final spot in the KCAC playoffs, facing Sterling in the first round.

“This game means something,” Yoder said. “Essentially, Saturday’s game is a play-in game. They spanked us here. We played one of our poorer games of the year against them here. We’re going to have to find a way to turn the tables against them.”

STERLING (17-10, 13-4 KCAC) — Goodrich 3-8 2-2 9, Stutzman 4-8 0-0 12, Poole 5-9 2-2 13, Brazelton 8-12 2-4 18, McGrath 0-1 1-2 1, Swiontek 0-0 0-0 0, Leake 0-1 0-0 0, Boarman 1-1 0-0 2, Odomes 0-0 2-2 2, Brown 2-2 0-3 4, Ferro 1-3 0-0 2, Alexander 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 0-2 0-0 0, TOTALS 24-49 9-15 63.

BETHEL (6-21, 5-12 KCAC) — M.Regier 2-4 0-0 4, O’Brien 5-15 0-0 13, Schneider 4-9 4-4 13, Ronnebaum 3-9 0-0 6, Watson 0-5 0-0 0, E.Regier 0-1 0-0 0, Wilhoite 3-4 0-0 7, Yunker 0-1 0-0 0, Bungarner 0-1 0-0 0, Griffin 0-3 0-0 0, Haywood 1-6 1-2 3, Benton 0-1 0-0 0, Baldia 0-2 3-3 3, Cummins 0-1 0-0 0, TOTALS 18-62 8-9 49.

Sterling 28 35 —63

Bethel 23 26 —49

Total fouls — SC 14, BC 14. 3-point shooting — SC 6-17 (Goodrich 1-4, Stutzman 4-7, Poole 1-3, Leake 0-1, Alexander 0-1, Miller 0-1), BC 5-19 (O’Brien 3-10, Schnieder 1-1, Ronnebaum 0-1, Wilhoite 1-2, Yunker 0-1, Griffin 0-1, Haywood 0-1, Baldia 0-2). Rebounds — SC 31 (Brown 6), BC 35 (M.Regier 10). Assists — SC 12 (Goodrich 5), BC 7 (M.Regier 4). Turnovers — SC 17 (Brazelton 5), BC 20 (five with 3). Blocked shots — SC 3 (three with 1), BC 2 (O’Brien 1, Wilhoite 1). Steals — SC 9 (Stutzman 6), BC 7 (three with 2).