By Lenny Sementi
Head freshman coach Luke Johnson’s squad ran past Tri-County 55-41 and then beat up on a good Monticello squad 60-53 to go 2-0 on the day capturing first place hardware in the Tuscola Freshman Invite. The young Warriors rotated players early in the title tilt against the Sages, then took full advantage of fresh legs to score 38 points after the break.
The Warriors fell behind early to Monticello but rallied late in the first as Rohan Patel made three in a row at the free throw line scoring 5 of his 11 points in the last four minutes of the first frame. Mike Cauldaron was big down low as well helping Tuscola keep it close trailing by six entering the second 18-12. Cauldaron, Donovan Chester, Creed Yets, and Cole Cunningham all attacked the basket in the second but were only able to cut into the lead by one as the Warriors entered the break down five 25-20.
The third period was a different story as Tuscola matched the first half total in the first seven minutes of the third allowing the Warriors to not only pull even but pull in front for good as the Sages wore down. Ben Tiezzi found both Chester and Cauldaron in the low post for buckets, and Grant Hardwick attacked the hoop for a pair of baskets. Hardwick also found his way to the line connecting on both ends of a one and one scoring 6 of his 11 points in the period helping the Warriors to a 40-36 lead heading into the final stanza.
Johnson’s group pushed the pace in the fourth, and the Sages struggled to keep up and fouled numerous times down the floor. The Warriors responded by winning the game at the line. Hardwick was good on 3 of 4 from the line down the stretch as was Cunningham, while Yet did some damage from the field dropping in a pair of jumpers and finishing of an old-fashioned three to seal the deal on the title.
Against Tri-County it was an all around team effort on offense as ten players in all scored in the game. The Warriors took the lead for good midway through the first on a basket by Hardwick. The shooting guard led the Warriors with a game high 12 points. Next up was Cauldaron and Chester who combined for 17 points in the low post–eight of which came in the pivotal second frame. Tuscola extended the lead to eight points thanks to the scoring in the paint entering the break on top 24-16.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 17 edition of The Tuscola Journal.