By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s girls’ basketball team came up a few baskets short in the semi-finals of the Pana Regional falling to a very good Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond squad 44-40. The Lady Knights backed up an earlier victory over the 21-win Warriors from earlier in the season despite winning just one of the four quarters.
Coach Tim Kohlbecker’s crew ended the Knights’ post-season hopes the last two years and looked to do it a third. The only difference was a slow second quarter for the Warriors. Tuscola managed just four points in the final eight minutes of the first half while the Knights put ten on the board taking a 22-16 lead into the half.
Seniors Natalie Bates and Grace Dietrich led the way for Coach Kohlbecker in their final game with the Warriors. Bates was tops on the scoring totals list with a team high 15 ponts, and Dietrich was next in line with eight points. The Russo sisters Lexie and Marissa were also strong. The duo patrolled the paint and combined for 10 points. Brynn Tabeling banked in a pair of jumpers and was good on both her free throw attempts, adding six points to her season rap sheet.
ALAH opened and closed the first quarter with a trey, while the Warriors did their damage inside on a pair of offensive put backs as the two area heavyweights traded blows. Bates hit a big two late to tie the game at 12’s after eight minutes of action. Tabeling found Bates cutting through the lane early in the second and then found Ashton Smith later in the period, but it was the only four points the Warriors would score falling behind by six at the break 22-16.
“They are a deceptive team that finds ways to score,” commented the coach. “I thought we defended well enough, the problem was they packed it in on defense, and we struggled with outside shooting.”
Bates and Dietrich each stepped outside for threes in the third during a 9-3 run that ended with Bates hitting a runner following a feed from Tabeling that knotted the game at 27 midway through the stanza. ALAH answered with a run over their own taking the lead for good despite a six-point outburst by Tabeling in the final minutes of the game.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Feb. 13 edition of The Tuscola Journal.