By Lenny Sementi
The Tuscola boys’ basketball team went toe to toe with the top team in the Central Illinois Conference, but for the second consecutive game the Warriors fell prey to a hot shooting team at the free throw line.
State ranked Central A&M hit 12 of 12 from the charity stripe in the second half Tuesday, Jan. 15, which allowed the Raiders to erase a third quarter Warrior lead and secure the CIC victory, 63-47, despite a huge outing by senior post Brayden VonLanken.
The big man dominated the paint scoring a team high 16- points on 5 of 9 from the floor, including a three. He finished off a pair of and one opportunities while going 5 of 8 from the free throw line and grabbed a team best eight rebounds. Five of his points came in the final three minutes of the first quarter and fueled a Warrior 10-2 run that cut a double-digit Raider lead to just one 17-16 by the first buzzer. Jacob Kibler hit a three to start the run, and Jalen Quinn hit a runner. Kibler opened the game with a three as well, adding eight points in all to his season resume.
Both teams turned up the heat on defense, but the Raiders still had no answer for VonLanken who hit a pair of buckets and a three ball with less five seconds left on the clock in the first half to knot the game at 28-28 entering break. Ben Dixon stepped outside the arc for coach Justin Bozarth in the period also. The junior wing was two for two on threes, delivering six points to the cause while hauling in five rebounds.
Cade Kresin put Tuscola on top with a quick bucket, but the well went dry for a five-minute period as A&M ran off a 15-0 run to take control of the game. Quinn stopped the bleeding with an offensive put back, and Will Little drained a three, which allowed the Warriors to keep it in striking distance entering the fourth down by nine, 45-36. Quinn had nine points in the game on 4 of 9 from the field. He also came through with three assists and five rebounds.
Dixon sank his second trey of the game only to watch A&M answer, forcing the Warriors to foul in an attempt to save clock, but the Raiders didn’t miss handing Tuscola its sixth loss of the season. The Warriors fall to 11-6 overall and 1-2 in the CIC.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Jan. 23 edition of The Tuscola Journal.