By Lenny Sementi
Tim Kohlbecker’s Lady Warrior girl’s basketball team came up one point short after leading by double-digits early in the contest falling to Warrensburg-Lathem 43-42. Tuscola never trailed until the final tick of the clock in the fourth quarter as the Lady Cardinals beat the final buzzer moving in front for the first time securing the Central Illinois Conference victory.
Marissa Russo and Brynn Tabeling were tops in the scoring for coach K. delivering a combined twenty-six points. Russo was donated fourteen points to the team totals on six of eleven from the field scoring in every frame including six in the second frame alone. She was also tough in the paint grabbing five rebounds and corralling a game-high seven steals. Tabeling was just two back contributing twelve points, which included a pair of deep balls. The speedy junior stepped outside the arc in both the second and fourth frames for three balls.
Warrior senior Abbey Jacob took the bull by the horns early scoring six of Tuscola’s first eight points on a pair of jumpers before taking her show to the free throw line three minutes into the contest. She hit both ends of a one and one putting Kohlbecker’s crew in front by six 8-2, then found Tabeling streaking to the hoop for one of her two assists in the game. Tabeling found the bottom of the net again late in the period and Hope Dietrich scored four of her seven points capping off a fourteen-point run that increased the lead to 16-2 with a minute left on the clock in first.
Kohlbecker looked to his bench for minutes to open the second period and kept the Cardinals at bay before Lainey Cummings found Russo twice down low for buckets on consecutive trips midway thru the quarter. Tabeling backed up the low post offense with a three and Sophie Kremitzki and Ella Boyer entered the score book with a basket each allowing Tuscola to enter the break on top by twelve 28-16.
Warrensburg was not about to go away opening the second sixteen minutes of action with a 12-0 run knotting the game at 28 at the two minute and twenty-five second mark of the third stanza. Dietrich broke the ice with a pair of free throws and Russo followed with two of her own from the line and a bucket from Tabeling sandwiched in between put the Warriors back on top leading by seven 36-29 entering the final frame.
Tuscola went cold from the floor early in the last stanza despite and early bucket by Russo allowing the Cardinals to run off eight of the first ten points in the frame cutting it to one 38-37 with 2:35 left on the clock. Tabeling stepped up with a big three ten ticks later but it was not enough to fend of the visitors from the west as they hit four of five from the line and a layup at the buzzer to end the night in front 43-42 when clock struck zero.
The Warriors struggled shooting in the second half as well as on the boards giving the Cardinals second chance buckets. They also hit just one of five from the line in the fourth frame missing the front of one and ones twice in the final minute.
“I really feel this was a game we beat ourselves. To many turnovers, poor free throw shooting and a general lack of focus with attention to detail and assignments cost us,” commented the coach. “We came out and played a good first quarter defensively and that led to offense. But didn’t carry that intensity into the second half. The first six minutes of the third quarter we had ten possessions, turned it over on eight of them and scored zero points. I suppose the one positive after letting this one go, is that we still had an opportunity to win even while playing such a poor second half.”
JV coach Mike Rosenbaum’s squad moved to 13-0 on the year remaining unbeaten downing Warrensburg in the prelim 43-28. Isabelle Wilcox set the tone early with a pair of threes on her way to a game-high fourteen points in the win. Maddie Stahler followed with eleven points connecting on five of seven from the line while Boyer and Abigail Pettry each added five points to the mix.