By Lenny Sementi
Gone from last year’s squad are a three-year dominating presence in the paint and a two-year point guard that could light it up from the outside and play shut down defense.
Back is a head coach starting his 15th season as the leader of the Lady Warriors and a two-headed monster in the middle and a host of speed. Cassie Russo was a force for Coach Tim Kohlbecker down low and Alexis Koester handled the ball out front and scored in spurts.
Coach K. enters the 2018-2019 campaign with an overall record of 269 wins and 129 losses. He has collected eight regional championships and a sectional crown along the way boasting eight 20 wins and nearly half the wins in the program’s history since its inception in 1980. He will look to add to his totals again this year after posting a 23-5 campaign a year ago, including a 7-0 conference run, despite key injuries late in the season.
The long-time bench boss and his assistants Lydia Miller and Justin Quick will fill in the gaps left by Russo and Koester with one of his largest senior classes in recent history and a pair of younger siblings that should be able to replace Russo. Senior Lexie Russo and sophomore Marissa Russo will look to fill big sis’s shoes, while seniors Natalie Bates and Grace Dietrich return to the starting lineup with sophomore Brynn Tabeling in the back court. Tabeling logged a lot of court time last season as a freshman after injuries sidelined Bates and Koester during the second half of the season. Another senior Ashton Smith also logged a ton of minutes a year ago and will be the sixth man if not in the starting lineup.
In all, he has four returning seniors that have all started games, five juniors, three sophomores and a freshman listed on the varsity roster and 19 players overall. The more the merrier as he will most likely sub frequently early in the year to build depth and overcome a lack of team height with the ability of everyone on the squad being able to run.
Bates and Tabeling will get the ball rolling with a ton of speed in the back court and will look to Dietrich as an option on the arc.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Nov.14 edition of The Tuscola Journal.