By Lenny Sementi
Head girls’ basketball coach Tim Kohlbecker never likes to lose a player to injury, but the long time bench boss of the Lady Warriors adheres to the old adage of next one up.
That was big this past week as the Warriors battled through their top scorer fouling out early and an injury to junior point guard Natalie Bates. Despite the adversity the Warriors moved forward collecting a pair of big time victories. Tuscola upended an athletic Class 3A Champaign Central squad 54-51 on Monday, Jan. 15 then ran to the front of the pack in the Central Illinois Conference standings handing St. Teresa its first league loss 56-32.
Monday, Jan. 15
Central 51; Tuscola 54
The two teams struggled to get moving on the offensive end early in the game scoring a combined 11 points in the first frame. Lexie Russo and Brynn Tabeling each hit a runner in the frame, and Alexis Koester hit both ends of a one and one that helped the Warriors to a 6-5 lead after one. Tabeling entered early it the contest due to an injury that sidelined Bates. The freshman filled in admirably scoring 10 points in the contest while also running the offense.
“It was a bittersweet night as we came away with a win against an athletic, physical opponent, but had an injury to a player who plays as hard and with as much heart and soul as any player you will ever watch and that I will ever coach,” stated Kohlbecker. “A real positive was that two freshmen stepped in and Brynn did an outstanding job in a pressure packed situation. Marissa (Russo) gave us quality minutes in the fourth and overtime.”
Central took advantage of Warrior miscues in the second quarter pushing in front early following a layup and fed a frenzied pace tallying 18 points to take a 23-17 lead into the break. Koester hit a three midway through the frame, but the Warriors struggled in the low post following early foul trouble for Cassie Russo.
In the third, however, following an adjustment by Coach K., Warrior Russo went to work scoring all but three of Tuscola’s points in the frame. Russo attacked the rim and found her way to the free throw line three times, twice finishing off old fashioned threes that helped the Warriors knot the game at 29 after the third buzzer. Russo however didn’t finish the stanza fouling out with a minute to go forcing the Warriors to play the fourth down two starters.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 24 edition of The Tuscola Journal.