By Lenny Sementi
Marissa Russo kicked off the new decade in style posting a double-double accounting for twenty-tree points and twelve rebounds but it was not enough to overcome a rough night at the free throw line for the Lady Warriors as they dropped their first Central Illinois Conference game of the season. League leading Central A&M took advantage of a nine for twenty-one effort at the charity stripe collecting the road victory their third CIC win of the year 46-40.
Coach Tim Kohlbecker’s crew also turned the ball over a few to many times for his liking giving it up twenty-eight times in the battle between two of the top defenses in the area falling to 8-6 overall and 2-1 in the conference. “It may have been our best thirty-two minutes defensively we have turned in all year, the girls executed the game plan to perfection,” commented Kohlbecker. “Our struggle was with turnovers and we were not good from the free throw line. The turnovers are frustrating, some are careless, some are the result of panic passing, or leaving our feet to pass, and today we struggled with simply catching and securing the ball.”
Russo dominated around the hoop on a near perfect ten of twelve from the floor accounting for all but five of Tuscola’s field goals. She was just as strong on defense limiting A&M’s leading scorer to just eight points while forcing her to the bench often with foul trouble. “Marissa was an absolute force, she had a superb game against a post player that many feel is one of the best in Central Illinois,” state the coach.
Brynn Tabeling donated three of the five buckets not made by Russo scoring eight points in the game while Ella Boyer hit the other two en-route to seven points including the Warriors only three in the game. The two guards were both good on two of three from the line and each had a pair of steals. A&M drew first blood and then traded points the rest of the first frame but came out on top with a late shot taking a 10-8 lead into the second frame.
Lost possessions was the problem in the second limiting offensive output. Russo was the tallied the only field goal or the period for the Warriors who trailed by double digits with less than two minutes left in the first half. Sophie Kremitzki cut into it late hitting both ends of a one and one sending it the break with the Lady Raiders in front by nine points 22-13 in what was the lowest output in a half by Tuscola all season long.
It was Russo time throughout the third cutting into the lead hitting all five shots she took in the frame. The Warriors climbed to within two points at the third buzzer thanks to Russo’s ten point effort and a three by Boyer making it 30-28 Raiders entering the final eight minutes of action.
A&M threw extra attention to the paint opening up Tabeling for a pair of baskets and Kremitzki for a ten-footer and Russo did more damage in the paint but an early three-ball and a late push at the line secured the win for the Raiders. Kremitzki came up just short of the double-digit plateau on the boards grabbing nine rebounds while Hope Dietrich hauled in four. Dietrich also shared the wealth dishing out a team-best three assists and was solid on defense tying with Abbey Jacob and Kremitzki in the steal department adding four to her season stat sheet.