By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola picked up a pair of wins to start the Monticello Holiday Hoopla and dropped a tough one to a very good Gibson City squad to end pool play earning them a spot in the third place contest versus the host Sages on Friday, Dec. 28.
The rims were cold for coach Justin Bozarth’s squad early, and the Sages didn’t wait for them to warm up, running out to a big first quarter lead en-route to a 52-29 victory and dropping the Warriors to 2-2 in the tournament and 10-3 overall on the year.
“We opened the Hoopla with ten great quarters of basketball and truly played pretty well in 12 of the 16 in the tourney,” stated Bozarth. “In our third quarter versus Gibson City to end pool play and the first two against Monticello we just didn’t play to our capability in my opinion. We allowed too many easy buckets inside and didn’t take care of the ball like we usually do.”
Freshman Jalen Quinn led all Warriors with eight points on 3 of 7 from the floor. Next were Will Little, Jacob Kibler and Grant Hardwick all ending the night with four points apiece. Brayden VonLanken led the way on the boards hauling five rebounds, while Kresin was tops in the assists department with three.
The host Sages hit 8 of 10 shots to open the game before the Warriors were able to score. Ben Dixon stopped the bleeding with 1:32 to go in the first making it 16-2. Monticello posted a six-point run to end the first and start the second and went up by 20, at 24-4, before Cade Kresin hit a short jumper on a feed from Kibler to make it 24-6 Sages at the break.
Tuscola’s offense got on track early in the third but again the inside attack by the hosts proved to be too much to overcome despite a 13-point fourth quarter by the Warriors. Quinn earned a spot on the Hoopla All Tournament Team voted on by the coaches for contributions during the four-game stint.