By Lenny Sementi
Tim Kohlbecker’s Lady Warriors’ basketball team has lost just once this season, and their reward at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla was a pool with an unbeaten home squad and a ranked Class 1A Ridgeview group that has just one blemish. If you’re counting, that’s three teams with a combined two losses on the year in the same pool.
The ladies in black and gold opened tourney play with a hard fought five-point 54-49 loss to the Lady Mustangs of Ridgeview in a back and forth contest, then were tripped up against Monticello in the night cap of the first day by nine 54-42. Both games the Lady Warriors got off to a slow start offensively, fought their way back into the contest, but came up short in the fourth quarter.
Game one Purple Pool
Tuscola 49; Ridgeview 54
The Lady Mustangs got off the bus attacking the hoops running out to a double-digit lead just four minutes into the contest. Ridgeview used a pair of old-fashioned threes and a few fast break buckets off turnovers building a 15-4 lead. They kept the status quo in the rest of the period answering each of the Warriors’ baskets to enter the second period on top 23-11.
The second quarter was completely different as the Warriors took their turn attacking the basket on the run, not only erasing the Mustangs advantage, but also taking a one-point lead into the break 30-29. Natalie Bates and Cassie Russo put the Warriors on their back scoring all but one of Tuscola’s 18 points in the frame. Russo did her damage in the paint and also found her way to the line, scoring eight of her game high 17 points in the game. Bates was on the move taking two long rebounds coast to coast for scores and also hit a jumper tallying six of her 12 points. The duo combined for 29 points, 21 rebounds (Russo 18) and seven assists (Bates six).
Grace Dietrich also tickled the bottom of the net with a three early in the quarter.
The two heavyweights traded points and leads in the third stanza, five in all, but Ridgeview had the last laugh. The Mustangs hit back-to-back treys, one at the buzzer to end the third putting them up by six 49-43 entering the fourth. Russo and Bates were again strong on offense, and Ashton Smith gave coach K a boost off the bench late in the frame corralling a pair of offensive rebounds and draining a 12-footer, but Ridgeview’s offense fed off the late threes.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 3 edition of The Tuscola Journal.