By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s offense didn’t get on track until the second half as the Warriors fell on the road at Sullivan 40-32 in their first Central Illinois Conference skirmish.
Tyler Meinhold led the way for Warriors’ head coach Justin Bozarth connecting on three shots from outside the arc scoring nine points, but Tuscola couldn’t overcome a slow start that netted a mere four points in the 16-minutes of action.
Luke Sluder tallied the only point of the first frame hitting the front end of a one and one as the Warriors trailed 10-1 at the first buzzer. It wasn’t much better offensively in the second with Tuscola scoring three points on a bucket by Jake Kibler and a free throw by Haden Cothron. Defensively the Warriors limited the Redskins to just five points keeping it within striking distance 15-4 at the break despite just one field goal.
Tuscola left their zone and switched to man to man when the teams returned to the floor, and the adjustment paid early dividends early for the Warriors turning in a season best quarter scoring 19-points in the third. The offense fed off the defense and limited the home team to just nine points. Meinhold hit a three early, and Sluder was good on 3 of 3 from the line while also hitting a runner. Hoel then stepped outside the arc for a three of his own closing to within one of the lead 24-23 entering the fourth. Kibler had a big bucket on a put back during the run.
Sullivan made an adjustment of their own driving the lane for three buckets early in the fourth pushing the lead to seven. They also expanded their trapping defense causing Bozarth’s squad issues offensively holding the Warriors without a field goal for the first six minutes of the final stanza. Meinhold connected on two threes late, but it was not enough as the Redskins secured the win at the free throw line with a 6 for 7 effort at the stripe in the last minute and a half of the game.
“We have to improve on offense,” stated the coach. “We are not going to win varsity basketball games when we score four points in a half.”
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 10 edition of The Tuscola Journal.