By Lenny Sementi
Every good team hangs their hat on something and Tuscola’s girls’ basketball squad has draped theirs on the defensive side of the floor. The old saying is defense wins championships, and that’s just what the Lady Warriors did.
Coach Tim Kohlbecker was grinning ear to ear after his squad ran off four straight victories in three days at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla capping it off with a signature 44-38 win over a strong Ridgeview team in the title game.
Natalie Bates and Brynn Tabeling both cause more than their share of problems at the front of the Warriors two three zone, and last Thursday night it was no different as the duo forced 12 turnovers while swiping a combined seven steals. Two others that do some damage on the perimeter defensively are Grace Dietrich and Sophia Kremitzki who each added a pair of steals apiece. Lexie Russo gets better in the post night in and night out. The senior battled two Ridgeview players all night and ended up with three steals of her own.
Bates was tops in the scoring department checking in with 17 points on 6 of 12 from floor, including a pair of threes. Next in line was Russo who banged her way to 12 points in the paint on 3 of 6 from the field and 6 of 10 from the free throw line while also grabbing a team best six rebounds.
“What I am impressed with the most is the resiliency of this team. We played four games in three days at Arthur and then turn around a few days later and do it again at the Hoopla, that speaks volumes about this team’s collective character,” commented the coach. “We faced various schemes and styles of play and adapted well enough to win a championship. That will gives us momentum heading into the second half of the season. Coach (Lydia) Miller, Coach (Justin) Quick, and I are am extremely happy for the girls, and very proud.”
Both teams came out with defense on their minds, and it showed as the neither squad scored in the first three and a half minutes of the game. Ridgeview finally broke the ice at the 4:37 mark in the first with an offensive put back and added another bucket before the Warriors lit up some lights on the scoreboard. Russo found her way to the line twice sinking 3 of 4 and then hit a short jumper before Tabeling drove to the hoop for a score as the Warriors ended the first down by one 8-7.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 9 edition of The Tuscola Journal.