By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boys’ basketball team advanced to the Sectional level for the first time since 2008 after upending the top seeded St. Joe Spartans and the fourth seeded Unity Rockets in the Heritage Regional. The regional crown earned them a spot in the Tolono Sectional and a shot at state-ranked Gibson City Melvin Sibley. The GCMS Falcons entered the contest on a 29-game win streak and left it with a yet another, beating the Warriors 50-30 thanks to a big second half.
The two teams squared off on the defensive ends of the court and traded points on the offensive ends en-route to a near dead heat after one period of action. Jalen Quinn answered two early makes by the Falcons with a runner and three ball to give the Warriors an early 5-4 advantage after four minutes of play. He then found Cade Kresin under the hoop on a wrap around pass for a bucket and drove to the hoop with 55 seconds left on the clock to put coach Justin Bozarth’s squad up by one, 9-8. GCMS found its way to the line for a pair of free throws before the buzzer to make it 10-9 Falcons entering the second and stayed in front the rest of the way.
Early in the second Quinn and point guard Will Little found Brayden VonLanken twice down low only to watch the Falcons double down on the Warriors’ big man. They manned him up when he didn’t have the ball, then quickly doubled when it entered the paint to hold him scoreless in the first half. It was a plan devised after watching him dominate the lane in the regional games. GCMS got big boosts off their bench, as well, but the Warriors defense was able to keep the lead under 10 despite only scoring four points in the frame. Quinn had an early bucket and Little donated two late on a short jumper.
Quinn answered a Flacon put back with a jumper on the Warriors’ first possession and ended a GCMS 9-0 run with a drive to the hoop. The run drove the lead to 16 points energizing the red and black clad fans from up north before a big breakaway dunk late took their level of excitement to a new level. GCMS ended the third with a three and rode the wave of enthusiasm spilling out of the crowd to a 4-0 run at the start of the fourth to push the lead to 22 points and ending the hopes of a Warrior comeback.
The full story can be found in the March 6, 2019 edition of The Tuscola Journal.