By Lenny Sementi
Coach Tim Kohlbecker’s hoop squad notched 18 assists on 23 baskets, which led to a dominating 42-point win over Shelbyville in the Warriors’ Central Illinois Conference opener.
Defense was at a premium, as well, as the Warriors never allowed the Rams more than four points in any one quarter and limited them to just eight points before the break and a mere two points in the last eight minutes of the 54-12 victory.
Tuscola boasts one of the best backcourt combos in the area, if not the state, and it showed as senior Natalie Bates and sophomore Brynn Tabeling combined for 11 assists, five and six respectively. Bates shared the top of the points total list with sophomore post Marissa Russo. Both players added a game high 11 points to their season stat sheet, each connecting on 5 of 7 from the floor in the game.
“We were very unselfish with the ball in our hands tonight,” stated the coach. “Natalie and Brynn had great vision tonight, everyone shared the ball, and we played good defense.”
Grace Dietrich did her damage from outside the arc drilling a pair of three’s en-route to eight points in the game, while freshman Sophia Kremitzki totaled six points on two made baskets and two free throws.
Tabeling hit a runner 30 seconds into the contest, and Bates followed it up with a three, but the Rams came out firing as well hitting a pair of buckets to keep it close with just 1:12 gone on the clock. That, however, is where Shelbyville’s offense would, for all intents and purposes, end as the Warriors held them scoreless for nine minutes and built a 29-4 lead with just over three minutes left on the clock in the first half.
The trend continued after the break as Coach K’s group scored the first 14 points of the third quarter, ending all hopes of a Ram comeback. Dietrich opened the half with a three, then Bates and Tabeling each found Russo in the low post as the Warriors attacked inside and out. Russo tallied nine points in a four-minute span in the frame and finished off an and-one as the Warriors built a 52-10 advantage by the third buzzer.
“I’m excited about how we are now moving and sharing the basketball,” Kohlbecker stated. “Chemistry is improving every game, our defense remains a work in progress, the kids are starting to understand the concepts of team defense.”
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Dec. 12 edition of The Tuscola Journal.