By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s girls’ basketball team traded baskets with one of the top ranked teams in the area, but it was not enough as the Lady Warriors fell at home against St. Joe in a barn burner 39-33. Coach Tim Kohlbecker’s team went toe to toe with the Lady Spartans but couldn’t get the needed buckets late in the game, despite limiting them to no more than 11 points in any one quarter.
“I thought, as a team, we played with energy and heart, we took one of the top teams in central Illinois to the wire with a chance to win in the last minute,” stated the coach. “My hope is that this proves to the team that with continued work in practice and cleaning up certain mistakes, we can be one of the top teams.”
Grace Dietrich in just her second game of the year broke out scoring a team high 10 points by finishing off three treys in the game. Next on the scoring list was senior classmate Natalie Bates. The human dynamo was good on 4 of 8 from the field for eight points while also swiping a team high three steals. Another senior Lexie Russo was strong on defense as well also notching three steals. She also hit the boards hard grabbing a team best six rebounds. Her sophomore sister Marissa was right on her heels securing five rebounds, three of which were offensive.
Bates’ backcourt mate and the Warriors offensive catalyst Brynn Tabeling added to the team totals early connecting twice in the first four minutes of the game to stop early Spartan runs. She ended the night with seven points, two steals, two rebounds and two steals. She also found Lexie Russo once late in the first and once more early in the second as the two squads traded points. Dietrich hit a three midway through two, and Bates scored six straight helping the black and gold enter the break knotted at 18 with the visitors from the north.
The third was more of the same with both teams leaning on high-pressured defense to limit offensive touches. Tabeling hit a runner early in the half and found Ashton Smith a few minutes later. In between was a Dietrich three ball, keeping the Warriors within two points at the third buzzer, 29-27, setting up a slugfest in the fourth quarter.
It was status quo the first four minutes of the fourth as Bates hit a bucket with six minutes left in the game, and Dietrich sank her third trey of the game a minute and a half later keeping the lead at two. A few buckets by the Spartans late forced the Warriors to foul only to watch SJO seal the deal on the win with a 6 for 6 effort at the line down the stretch. With the loss, the Warriors fall to 3-2 over all on the year.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Dec. 5 edition of The Tuscola Journal.