The Bethel College men’s basketball team fell too far in the hole too early, falling to Sterling 74-57 Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament in Sterling.


The Bethel College men’s basketball team fell too far in the hole too early, falling to Sterling 74-57 Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament in Sterling.

Sterling, 19-10, advances to the semifinals Saturday. Bethel ends the season 7-22.

Bethel was in the game the first 12 1/2 minutes. Sterling made a run in the last 7 1/2 minutes to take control of the game.

“That last five minutes of the first half was the game,” Bethel coach Mark Yoder said. “We went from 10 to 18 down just like that. Our transition defense was very poor in the first half. Our defense overall wasn’t very good. Too many times we lost our man. There were times we switched from zone to man, and we didn’t know who we were guarding. Our communication was not good. We didn’t play well. They are a very good team and took it to us, but we didn’t play well.

“They’re a good team. They were ready to play. You hope that they are looking to nationals and overlook you, but they came out and played well. They shot it well. The kids never quit. They kept battling to the end.”

Sterling already had a berth to the NAIA Division II national tournament locked up with the KCAC regular-season title. Sterling hit 29 of 60 from the field and held a 41-31 rebounding edged. Bethel hit 23 of 55, seven of 16 from 3-point range, but just four of 10 from the free throw line.

Trent Stutzman led Sterling with 17 points, hitting five of 10 3-pointers. Cody Brazelton added 10 points.

Bethel was led by Jason O’Brien with 12 points, four of seven from 3-point range.

“Sometimes those threes Stutzman had came from rebounds and kicking it back out,” Yoder said. “Rebounding really hurt us in the first half.”

Sterling jumped to a 26-17 lead with 8:18 remaining in the first half, aided by 11 of 18 shooting and five Bethel turnovers.

Sterling closed the half with a 12-4 run capped by a Pool layup off a steal to take a 46-28 lead.

Bethel was outrebounded 21-12 in the first half.

The Threshers got within 14 early in the second half. Sterling replied with an 8-2 run. In the final three minutes, Bethel’s bench outscored Sterling’s bench, led by a pair of Justin Baldia treys, to get the Threshers back within 17.

Bethel loses two seniors — O’Brien and Matt Regier.

“You always hope your seniors have a better outcome in their last game,” Yoder said. “We’ll go out on the recruiting trail and try to get better. We have to get in the weight room. We have to get a lot stronger. We have a lot of kids, who if they put in the work, can really improve this team. You don’t want to lose anybody. You hope to keep what you have and bring in some new people. We need a post scorer or two. ... We just need the right mix of newcomers and returners. We could use a junior college transfer or two.

“Matt gives you everything he’s got every night. He battles against bigger guys. He takes charges and plays defense. It’s a tall order, when you give up three or four inches. He’ll be a tough one to lose, because he’s worked so hard for four years. It would have been nice to have Jason another year. (O’Brien transferred to Bethel as a senior). It would have been nice to play Jason at a two, but we needed him on point this year.”

BETHEL (7-22) — O’Brien 4-9 0-0 12, E.Regier 0-1 0-0 0, Schneider 3-9 0-0 6, Bumgarner 0-0 0-0 0, Griffin 4-6 0-2 8, Haywood 2-6 2-2 6, Watson 3-6 0-0 7, Benton 1-2 0-0 2, Baldia 2-3 0-0 6, Yunker 1-2 0-1 2, Cummins 0-3 0-0 0, M.Regier 0-1 0-2 0, Wilhoite 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS 23-55 4-10 57.

STERLING (19-10) — Swiontek 0-1 0-0 0, Leake 1-1 0-0 2, Goodrich 2-4 2-2 7, Stutzman 6-13 0-0 17, Poole 1-3 3-3 5, Boarman 0-5 1-2 1, Brazelton 5-6 0-1 10, Odomes 3-7 0-0 6, Brown 3-4 2-7 8, Ferro 3-5 0-0 6, Alexander 3-5 0-0 6, Adesodun 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Minton 0-0 0-0 0, McGrath 2-3 2-2 6, TOTALS 29-60 10-17 74.

Bethel 28 29 —57

Sterling 46 28 —74

Total fouls — BC 18, SC 13. Fouled out — BC: M.Regier. 3-point shooting — BC 7-16 (O’Brien 4-7, E.Regier 0-1, Ronnebaum 0-1, Griffin 0-1, Haywood 0-1, Watson 1-1, Baldia 2-3, Cummins 0-1), SC 6-18 (Swiontek 0-1, Goodrich 1-2, Stutzman 5-10, Poole 0-2, Alexander 0-2, Miller 0-1). Rebounds — BC 31 (Haywood 6), SC 41 (Ferro 7). Assists — BC 8 (O’Brien 2, Watson 2), SC 13 (Goodrich 7). Turnovers — BC 17 (E.Regier 3, Griffin 3), SC 11 (Goodrich 3). Blocked shots — BC 6 (Cummins 2), SC 5 (Stutzman 2). Steals — BC 3 (O’Brien 2), SC 12 (Alexander 4).