By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola took the short trek north this Saturday, Jan. 6 to Tolono, and left the Rocket Center with a solid 13-point victory. Coach Tim Kohlbecker’s team used big frames in the middle of the game to secure the non-conference victory. Tuscola scored 13 points in each of the second and third frames to build a lead then survived a two-point frame in the fourth limiting the home team to just four points down the stretch.
Kohlbecker’s group leaned on its defense getting 10 steals from five different players, including a team high three steals from senior post Cassie Russo. They forced 22 turnovers in the contest and never gave up more than seven points in any one frame.
“We have put in a lot of focus on defense in practice lately,” stated the coach. “And, I feel it paid off in this game, our team defense was much improved.”
Leading the way on the offensive end was Lexie Russo with a game high 10 points, all of which came in the second half. She did most of her damage inside opening the area beyond the arc for Alexis Koester and Grace Dietrich. The two guards accounted for a combined 17 points, including five treys, three of which came in the pivotal second period.
“Alexis and Grace shot the ball very well from the outside,” commented the coach. “And, Lexie had a nice second half offensively.”
Both teams struggled to light up the score board in the first, but a Koester three and a bucket by Brynn Tabeling late proved to be the difference, giving Tuscola a 9-6 advantage after one. Unity tied it up with just 20 seconds gone in the second with a three, but Dietrich and Koester answered with back-to-back-to-back treys putting the Warriors in front for good. Dietrich hit one at the five-minute mark and another on the next possession before Koester drained the third with two minutes left in the half to make it 22-9 Warriors. The Rockets answered with the final four points of the stanza cutting it to nine at the break 22-13.
The Russos came out firing scoring the first eight points of the second half on a pair of put backs and a fast break kick started by a Bates steal. Bates found Lexie on the break pushing the lead to sixteen 30-14. The speedy guard then hit Dietrich on the arc allowing Kohlbecker to look to his bench for help. Tuscola’s defense did the rest giving up just six points in the final 10 minutes of the contest to the secure the win.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 10 edition of The Tuscola Journal.