By Lenny Sementi
Though it seems football just ended, it’s boys’ basketball season in Warrior Country, and the Justin Bozarth era got under way Saturday, Dec. 2 as the new leader of the Tribe took his Warriors on the road for a non-conference game against Okaw Valley. Bozarth took over the reins from Matt Franks and knew coming into it early season practices might be a little lonely, and he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“I’m a sports fan and a Warriors fan, it was great watching the guys in the state championship game,” stated the new coach. “Year in a year out you know the football team has a chance to play after Thanksgiving, and that’s great.”
After a rusty start Tuscola erased a double-digit Timber Wolf advantage with a spirited start to the third quarter pulling to within one of the lead, but, in the end, threes early and free throws late proved to be too much to overcome. Okaw Valley hit five threes in the first half all in the span of five minutes to build an early lead then ended the game at the line hitting 10 free throws in the fourth quarter downing the Warriors in a high scoring affair 61-55.
Due to the late run by the football team, Bozarth’s official first two weeks at the helm included one varsity starter, two total varsity players and not even all his freshmen. That, however, was not a deterrent to the new coach. “I will never use that as an excuse, we have good kids, and they will get it taken care of, that’s how I feel,” Bozarth stated.
Tuscola won the tip and kicked off the season with a jumper by Tyler Meinhold. Meinhold, the lone starter who had not missed a practice, led the Black and Gold in scoring accounting for 19 points, including five threes, one of which was on their second possession making it 5-4 Warriors.
Okaw Valley answered with a 17-point run on the back of five threes that truthfully may have been the difference in the game. From that point on Tuscola outscored the home team by 10 points.
“Okaw Valley did a great job moving the ball in and out of our zone early,” stated the coach. “They hit 6 of 13 three’s on the day and shot us out of our zone in the first quarter.”
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Dec. 6 edition of The Tuscola Journal.