By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola boys’ basketball team kept their foot firmly planted on the offensive gas pedal wearing out a strong Neoga squad 65-56. In what seemed more like a track meet than a basketball game coach Justin Bozarth’s boys never let up, erasing a three-point half time deficit with a 19-point third quarter securing their 16th win of the season.
Both teams were on fire from the get go offensively, trading leads and three pointers en-route to a combined 42 points in the first quarter. Threes were wild in the opening minutes for both squads. The Redskins went up 4-2 before the onslaught from outside the arc started. Tuscola’s Jalen Quinn was the first to hit a deep ball to kick start an offensive outburst that ended with treys on six of the next eight possessions. Bozarth’s boys had four of them including a pair from Will Little and one from Jacob Kibler.
Little scored 6 of his 10 points in the first frame and assisted on one other. Quinn added 20 points to the stat sheet, including eight points in the fourth quarter. Kibler donated eight points while also grabbing a team high eight rebounds, two of which were offensive in the first period that resulted in Warrior buckets, but it was not enough as the visiting Indians took a two-point lead into the second on top 22-20.
Quinn notched the first bucket of the second stanza to tie it up, and Grant Hardwick hit the last of the half sinking a three. Neoga had a late three of their own; however, that gave them a 34-31 advantage entering the break. Brayden VonLanken went to work in the third to fuel a 14-3 run that included 10 points from the Warrior big man, which in the end was most likely the difference. The senior post was good on 8 of 13 from the field in the game and also delivered four rebounds, three assists and a steal. Tuscola was an ungracious host, limiting the visitors to just a pair of buckets resulting in a nine-point lead for the Warriors entering the final period.
“Neoga shot the ball really well in the first half, but we weren’t pleased with our defense,” commented the coach. “We talked a lot about getting to the 50/50 balls during half time, and the guys responded only giving up 22 points in the second half versus a team that has several guys that can shoot it, that was the difference.”
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Feb. 20 edition of The Tuscola Journal.