By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boys’ basketball team not only won its first regional title since 2008, head coach Justin Bozarth and his guys collected the first IHSA Class 2A regional title in program history with the 53-44 victory over Tolono Unity.
Bozarth and his seniors Cade Kresin, Will Little, Luke Sluder and Brayden VonLanken instilled a confidence in the entire program that led to the championship victory over the Rockets. Once more, like the SJO game, area newspapers picked against them, and, once more, they proved them wrong. The upset win over top seeded St. Joe was not a fluke, Bozarth’s bunch believed in themselves and were looking to avenge an earlier loss to Unity in a game the Rockets utilized a box and one defense on Jalen Quinn to slow down the high-scoring freshman.
This past Friday they switched defenses the first few times down the floor and then settled back in to face guarding Quinn. Quinn, however, found a loophole and drove to the basket scoring 12 of his game high 21 points in the lane. If he wasn’t finishing off a runner, he found his way to the charity stripe scoring his other nine points. He also was a beast on the boards grabbing 10 rebounds, notching the first post season double-double of his career. VonLanken was strong in the lane donating 14 points on 6 of 13 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds.
As a team, the Warriors fought through a dismal night at the line making just 13 of 32 with in-your-face defense that limited the Rockets to sub-double-digit numbers in the second and fourth frames. Unity made just 15 of 47 from the floor shooting just over 30 percent from the field in the game. Little was strong defensively on the SJO top shooter, and, when he wasn’t in his face, Jacob Kibler was.
Unity ran out to an 8-1 lead in the first four minutes of the game then scored the last six points of the first quarter to take a 14-6 lead after one. In between the two Rocket runs was a three by Kibler and a jumper from just inside the arc by Little. They extended it to double digits with the first bucket of the second stanza before the Warriors turned up the heat on defense and limited them to just one more bucket in the last seven minutes of the first half. Quinn and VonLanken did some damage inside and at the line to cut into the lead, and Kibler drove the lane for two late narrowing the Rockets’ advantage to just three at the break.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Feb. 27 edition of The Tuscola Journal.