By Lenny Sementi
Long time bench boss and Tuscola’s own Coach K, Tim Kohlbecker, will be looking to step on the gas with this year’s girl’s basketball team. “The Lady Warriors won’t scare anyone with their size when they walk on the floor but they will wear you out from the opening tip to the final buzzer on both sides of the floor,” Coach Mike Rosenbaum.
“We need to push the ball,” commented the coach. “We had a great summer and worked on up tempo offense and man defense, our turnout was outstanding even though so many players are multi sport athletes and we are hoping it pays dividends. We graduated four seniors that saw mega minutes a year ago so we are relatively young. It will be crucial for some of our inexperienced players to develop quickly.”
Seniors and fourth-year players Abbey Jacob and Grace Voyles will be called upon by the coach to use their knowledge of the program too lead the younger Warriors early in the season. “Abbey is strong defensively and has a new confidence in her shot. Grace shoots the ball very well, we just need her to shoot more often.”
Kohlbecker will lead on three juniors that all started at one point last season and two others that were big for the Warriors last season at the JV level will be the backbone of the squad. Brynn Tabeling will be at the point to distribute the ball and score. The speedy guard is strong in all aspects of the game. She led the team in scoring and rebounding in a few games in the 2018-2019 season and also is one of the best defenders in central Illinois. “Brynn is a great ball handler and a tenacious on the ball defender, she played with some very good seniors last season and now will be called on to run the team without them.”
Another third year player Marissa Russo will play her first season without an older sister on the team. Russo has the ability to be big for the Warriors in the rebounding department and should also provide offensive punch in the paint. Classmate Hope Dietrich will also provided some length in and around the hoop. She is fearless down low but also can hurt you facing the basket.
“Marissa is starting to realize that she can be a scorer for us, she is just starting to believe in herself as much as we do,” stated Kohlbecker. “Hope maybe the most athletic player on the team, she is the best we have at cutting into the lane on offense and her shooting is much improved over last year.”
Lainey Cummings and Hannah Hornaday are two more from the class of 2021 that will donate to the cause. Cummings is defensive oriented and brings speed to the floor while Hornaday does her damage around the basket. “Hannah could surprise some people, she missed most of last season and the entire summer with an injury,” commented the coach. “She is one of our more cerebral players and has been solid defensively in the post during our practices, and also has shown good instincts around the rim and simply put just needs some time to develop her rhythm in game situations again after all the time off.”
Sophie Kremitzki was in the staring lineup some last January and February as a freshman and will be one of the sophomores to look at in the area. She adds some size to the lineup and will be called on to be a consistent scorer. “Sophie can play any position on the floor and really has improved her ability to get to the rim on offense.”
Some newcomers that could turn heads before its all said and done is sophomores Maddie Stahler and Taylor Musgrave as well as freshman Ella Boyer. Musgrave will miss part of the early season with an injury but will provide help defensively when she returns. Stahler provides depth at guard and is getting better everyday at attacking the hoop to open up the offense for others. Boyer has shown a lot of promise pushing the older players in practice giving them a great look.
“Ella is extremely competitive and plays spirited every day,” Kohlbecker was quoted as saying. “She is already a good on the ball defender and is a top two finisher night in and night out in every sprint the team runs.”
Kohlbecker welcomes long time assistant Justin Quick back to the bench and adds assistant Mike Rosenbaum to the staff. The trio sees Central A&M, Sullivan, Clinton and St Teresa as the biggest threats in the Central Illinois conference. A&M and Sullivan return a lot form successful campaigns a year ago and St T. will look to build on a state title in volleyball this fall with a very athletic lineup. “Most every year I feel we should be considered a contender for the league title in the regular season and the tournament, and I feel that is the case again this season,” Coach K. said. “I expect to contend for championships at the Holiday Hoopla Tournament in Monticello and the regional. These are very feasible goals as long as the ladies continue to work in practice like they have thus far.”
Obviously the Warriors strength is in their speed on the floor enabling them to play aggressively and at a fast pace. That alone will wear out opposing post players and in the long run force a lot of turnovers which Kohlbecker hopes will fuel the offense. The coach sees depth and rebounding as the squad’s two weaknesses. “We are not tall and don’t rebound particularly well yet, we need players to show some more tenacity in that department and with the loss of the four seniors from a year ago our depth will be tested early.