By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s Lady Warriors basketball team blew open a back and forth contest with a big final frame outscoring the St. Joe Lady Spartans by ten points in last eight miutes of the game securing a win over the area’s second ranked team 65-55. Grace Dietrich scored 14 points in the game, eight of which came in the pivotal fourth quarter as the Warriors rewarded Coach Tim Kohlbecker with the 250th of his career at Tuscola.
“It’s always good to get a win especially against a quality opponent,” stated coach K. “We need to work on our defense, we were fortunate we shot the ball well which camouflaged our defensive deficiencies.”
Dietrich hit a pair of threes in the stanza and was good on 4 of 6 from beyond the arc in the game. She was one point off the Warrior leading scorer Natalie Bates who tallied 15 points on 6 of 10 from the field and 3 of 6 from the line. Bates and Lexi Russo closed the door on an SJO comeback going 4 for 4 from the free throw line in the last 4-minutes of the contest. Russo’s elder sister Cassie was also strong late dropping in a pair from under the hoop en-route to a team high 17-points on 7 of 12 from the floor and 3 of 5 from the charity stripe.
The two teams traded buckets throughout the high-scoring first half, which included eight lead changes in the first 14 minutes of the game. Coach K’s squad attacked inside and out getting early three’s from Alexis Koester and Dietrich as the Spartans squeezed the middle of the floor in an attempt to control the paint. The early long range salvos extended the defense allowing the elder Russo to go to work in the paint for three buckets giving Kohlbecker a slim two-point lead after one 17-15.
It was the same scenario in the second quarter only this time the Spartans were able to find a few more points knotting the game at 33 at the second buzzer. Koester was the Warrior with the hot hand hitting two three’s and a runner scoring eight of her 11 points in the period. Bates took the game to the hoop in the third. The Warriors’ point guard drove twice for buckets and pulled up following a steal to add six points to her stat sheet in the first five minutes of the second half. Dietrich stepped out for another three as the two teams traded leads five times in the third quarter and entered the final eight minutes of action dead locked at 47.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Dec. 6 edition of The Tuscola Journal.