By Lenny Sementi
Natalie Bates and Cassie Russo led the way as Tuscola’s girls’ basketball team rebounded from a pair of losses to a pair of state-ranked team at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla. The girls went on to win their last two en-route to a fifth place finish.
Tuscola fell in their first two pool games and then leaned on the All-Tournament Team duo of Bates and Russo to end the tourney strong with a dominating 60-29 win over Argenta in the their final pool game and a 48-39 win over Neoga in the medal round.
Bates scored eight points in the win over AO and 11 points against Neoga, while Russo added 22 points, 10 and 12 respectively. Bates was all over the floor on defense, and Russo dominated the boards grabbing 10 rebounds in each game to post a pair of double-doubles.
“The last two games of the tourney gave us an opportunity to play everyone and work on developing depth,” stated coach Tim Kohlbecker. “Cassie and Nat were deservedly voted to the all-tourney team, coaches told me it was as much for their effort and intensity as it was for their stats. I have told the team, that if we can get everyone playing as hard as those two, as well as Brynn (Tabeling) and now Abbey (Jacob) we will be a tough team to beat.”
Third purple pool game
Tuscola 60; Argenta 29
Coach K’s squad jumped out to a quick 10-point lead–thanks to a big presence down low from Russo–and cruised to the victory. Bates stole the show literally turning a pair of early steals into buckets while disrupting the Lady Bombers Offense.
Little sister Lexi Russo was perfect from the floor in the game connecting on 3 of 3 from the floor, including a three pointer, scoring nine points. Sophomore Abbey Jacob added nine points to her season resume as well and also hit once from outside the arc. Junior Ashton Smith showed her range off the bench with two threes in the game while battling in the paint with the Bombers low post on defense.
And, we have one more Russo to talk about. Marissa the youngest of the three on the squad not only scored the first varsity points of her career, the freshman tallied seven points in the game with three field goals and a free throw. If you were keeping track that’s 26 points from one household.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 10 edition of The Tuscola Journal.