By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boys’ basketball team shook off a slow start on Tuesday the 9th to go toe to toe with one of the best in the area but fell prey to a pair of late game three’s allowing the 12-1 Unity Rockets to escape with a 49-37 victory on their home floor.
Unity banged the boards early jumping out to an 8-2 lead with four minutes gone in the game on a pair of offensive put backs and two runners. The Warriors’ Luke Sluder stopped the bleeding with a ten footer, and Dalton Hoel hit both ends of an unsportsmanlike technical on the Rockets cutting it to three before the Rockets put one more back on the offensive end to take a 12-7 advantage into the second frame.
Tuscola fired back pulling to within one of the lead 12-11 when Jake Kibler went coast to coast with a steal, and Sluder found Cale Sementi in the low post. Sementi was also a force on defense swatting a game and season high seven blocks. Unity struggled to score inside but ended two long possessions with threes en-route to a 22-11 lead at the break.
Tuscola charged back once more turning up the heat on defense in the third limiting the host team to just three points in the frame while scoring 12 of their own cutting it to one with eight minutes left to play. Hoel and Braydon VonLanken came up big during the run drilling back-to-back threes. The duo drove to the hoop as well scoring all but two of the team’s points in the quarter.
VonLanken hit again from outside the arc early in the final stanza, and Sementi put in a baby hook on the right side as the teams traded points. Unity fired the next long-range bombs hitting threes on consecutive trips down the floor late in the game securing the hard fought non-conference victory.
VonLanken led all Warriors with 13 points on 4 of 10 from the field, 2 of 2 from outside the arc. Hoel was next up credited with nine points, including a three. Sluder scored four points and was a perfect 2 for 2 from the field while grabbing a team high 10 rebounds.
Tuscola struggled early again a few nights later in the week on Friday and never recovered dropping a Central Illinois Conference game to a good Shelbyville squad. The Rams hit a three to open the contest, and Tyler Meinhold answered with one of his own from that point on though it was all Shelbyville until the final frame.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 17 edition of The Tuscola Journal.