By Lenny Sementi
Coach Tim Kohlbecker loves the Monticello Holiday Hoopla.
The long time coach of the Lady Warriors loves the quick turnaround playing four games in three days, giving him a chance to fix mistakes, develop lineups, and reinforce good habits. Tuscola attacked pool play with a vengeance winning all three contests leaning on their guard play out front and the team’s growing ability to feed the ball inside.
Seniors Natalie Bates and Lexie Russo showed signs of being in sync early in the season but back-to-back tourneys has honed a skill that has the Warrior’s poised to do some damage in the second half of the season. Bates has been deadly with a lob into her classmate in the post forcing defenses to collapse, which gives the Warriors room on the perimeter and open mid range jumpers. Sophomore guard Brynn Tabeling entered the starting lineup last season after an injury to Bates, their extended time on the floor this holiday season caused headaches for the Warriors three opponents. Add into the mix freshman guard Sophia Kremetzki’s ability to drive and score. The cohesiveness that grows between the three each game out allow’s Kohlbecker’s confidence in the offense to score.
Tuscola opened the tourney Wednesday the 26th with a 50-32 drubbing of Neoga on day one. They followed up on day two with a pair of wins over Argenta Oreana and Gibson City Melvin City to go 3-0 in pool play securing a spot and a date with a good Paxton Buckley Loda team in the Championship. They dominated AO for second time this year in the morning game on Thursday beating the Lady Bombers 54-24 then held off a late charge in the night cap six hours later, edging GCMS 46-43.
Wednesday, Dec. 26
Tuscola 50; Neoga 32
1st Pool Game
The connection between L. Russo and Bates showed up early. Bates found Russo twice in the first two minutes of the contest before Tabeling rewarded Bates with a ball on the arc as the Warriors established their offense early. Kremitzki drove the lane late in the stanza and finished off an old fashioned three after laying it in and handing Kohlbecker a 13 point lead after one 22-9. Abbey Jacobs added a bucket late as well.
It was Bates to Russo on the lob again to open quarter number two, and the rout was on, allowing Kohlbecker to empty his bench early first and second halves resting up players for a grueling three games in two days.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 2 edition of The Tuscola Journal.