By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s girls basketball team started off the season with a win but stumbled a few times early. Though that didn’t phase long time bench boss Tim Kohlbecker. The leader of the Warriors thought they might struggle at times offensively, but he knew from the get go they could play defense and that would result in adding to the win column as the season moved along.
Natalie Bates and Brynn Tabeling were relentless on opposing guards out front, and Lexie Russo disrupted passing lanes down low. The trio accounted for 275 steals during the 21-win campaign. Bates a senior was tops in the category, swiping 105 balls. As a Warrior she came up with 314 total to set the school record for career steals and also landed in fifth all time on the season stat sheets. Russo was next on the list with 88 steals. The senior post also now occupies the 10th spot in the program’s top ten list for rebounds in a season collecting 237 and also moved into the eighth spot in career boards with 597.
Tabeling, a sophomore, was right on her heels delivering 82 steals to go with a team best 91 assists. It was the sixth best season dish total in program history despite the team’s low offensive numbers. Seven players in all recorded at least 25 steals during the year. Freshman Sophia Kremitzki collected 32 of them moving her into the 5th spot for freshman totals in a season. The team held 23 of their 30 opponents under 35 points while averaging just over 42 points per contest.
Offensively, Bates was tops on the list connecting on 45 percent of her shots to average 10.8 points per game for a team high 324-points earning her first team All Central Illinois Conference, and a special mention on the Illinois Basketball Coaches all state team. Next was Russo with 232-points followed by Dietrich and Tabeling who each added 162 points to the team totals. Dietrich hit 27 threes during her final season with the Warriors, raising her up to second all time on the career three-point list. Classmate Ashton Smith was the dead eye in the group draining threes hitting just under 30 percent of her attempts from outside the arc.
Sophomore Marissa Russo was also strong on offense, scoring 132 points and connecting on a team best 55 percent from the floor. Abby Jacob and Hope Dietrich were two others that donated more than their fair share of the time to the varsity’s success. Jacob is another front court player who brings strong defensive pressure while the younger Dietrich is strong in the paint both defensively and on the boards.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, March 13, 2019 edition of The Tuscola Journal.