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Bluejay brothers: Together again at Tabor

Sports Editor

Kansas Jayhawk basketball is a big deal to the Gary and Jo Hett family.

The Marion couple always has supported the Crimson and Blue 100 percent.

Although, now it may be 50/50.

A new team has moved into the mix: Tabor College.

How could parents not root for a team that has two of their sons on the roster?

While the Bluejays and Jayhawks don’t compete in the same collegiate division, the Hetts are having to make room in their basketball hearts for the Blue and Gold of Tabor.

Jared, a senior, and Jason, a freshman, are playing basketball together for the first time since 2003-04 at Marion High School.

“I was excited,” Jo said after she found out. “I thought it was kind of neat.”

Jared is a member of the varsity squad in his second year with the Bluejays after transferring from Butler Community College.

In his final year of eligibility, he is now able to play with his brother who comes to the ‘Jays after one year at Washburn University.

After suffering an injury and missing most of the pre-season workouts, Jason was placed on the junior varsity squad, but still suits up and is on the bench during varsity games.

“I got in one varsity game,” he said with a laugh while sitting next to his older brothers.

While the two haven’t been on the court together much during a game, practice is a different situation.

Most of the time, they are guarding each other.

“That’s fun,” Jared said giving a sly look to his younger brother that seemed to say he is successful more often than against him.

“I’ve gotten him a few times,” Jason said quickly defending himself.

Almost didn’t happen

Two years ago, Jared had been out of the game for three years.

A stint at BCC didn’t work out, and he was attending Emporia State University but not playing basketball.

Jared still played in open gym pickup games, which led to his arrival at Tabor.

One night while he was playing in Hillsboro, Tabor head coach Micah Ratzlaff saw him play.

Ratzlaff, who was getting ready to start his first year as coach at the time, later invited Jared to play at Tabor.

The older Hett brother transferred back to BCC to become eligible to play at Tabor, and he was a Bluejay by the fall.

Jared said getting back into playing shape was no problem.

“I was fine,” he said, “but playing games again was a lot different.

The team was full of new players and coaches in 2007-08, and struggled to a 13-17 record.

Now, most of those players are back, and Ratzlaff is starting to settle in as a coach.

“We just have to stay positive because we have a good team,” Jared said.

The Bluejays are 7-4 on the season, and in a three-way tie at the top of the KCAC with a 3-1 conference record.

Jason is happy to be a part of the squad as it continues to get better.

“It’s fun playing with all of those guys,” he said. “They are fun to be around.”

After going to school for a semester and not playing a sport, Jason took it upon himself to get back into basketball.

He contacted the school earlier this year and asked about becoming a Bluejay.

He said Jared being there had something to do with it, but he wasn’t about to give his older “bro” all the credit.

“A little bit,” Jason said of whether his choice to go to Tabor had to do with Jared. “Mainly I just missed playing, and I was going to jump at the first opportunity I got.”

At Washburn it didn’t take long for Jason to realize he missed the game he loved.

“I always played pickup games, but I was like, ‘Man, I still want to play’,” Jason said. “Coming back (to Marion) to watch games was hard.”

Now he is back in the game and having a great time.

For now, it’s just playing basketball, but Jason said he understands the significance of the situation.

“When I look back on it, I will probably think about it more,” he said.

Eighth grader and youngest brother Jordan won’t ever play with his brothers, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get into the conversation at home.

“When you throw Jordan into the mix, it’s all about basketball in our house,” Jo said.

They wouldn’t have it any other way.

Last modified Dec. 30, 2008

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