By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s never say die attitude was never more on display than it was Thursday, Feb. 8 in the championship game of the Arthur IHSA regional.
The Lady Warriors season ended at the hands of a good Sullivan squad 40-34 despite a spirited fight until the end. Tuscola was dealt a tough hand late in the season losing both guards, but coach Tim Kohlbecker’s crew never blinked. The Lady Warriors left blood sweat and tears on the floor in Arthur, but it was not enough as Sullivan pulled out a victory behind a perfect night at the free throw and a cold spell late by the Warriors.
Brynn Tabeling got it all started for Tuscola in the title tilt after getting fouled on a drive to the hoop. The freshman hit both ends of a one and one to knot the game at two. Cassie Russo finished at the hoop, and the two teams traded threes, Tuscola’s by Grace Dietrich, heating up the rims early. Russo scored twice more in the frame once on a left handed reverse layup putting the Warriors on top 11-8. The senior post then swiped a ball at the top of the one three one zone and fed Dietrich helping coach K’s group to a 13-10 lead after one. Russo was a monster in the first 16 minutes donating 10 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks to the cause.
Russo’s domination around the hoop continued in the second scoring four more points giving her 10 points in the first half. Her sister Lexie got into the act as well sinking both ends of a one and one before finding big sis for a bucket in the paint. Abbey Jacobs found her way into the score book as well with a mid-range jumper with under a minute to play in the half giving Tuscola a 23-19 advantage at the break.
The elder Russo picked up foul number three early in the third as the Redskins continually attacked the hoop on offense earning them trips to the charity stripe on three of their first four possessions of the third. They hit both ends of one and ones twice to take the lead midway through the period. Enter Tabeling, the freshman who was everywhere on defense and running the point throughout, who couldn’t miss and delivered seven straight points for Tuscola pushing the Warriors in front 30-27 entering the final stanza. Following her final basket, however, Russo picked up her fourth foul sending the Parkland College commit to the bench until the four-minute mark of the fourth.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Feb. 14 edition of The Tuscola Journal.