By Lenny Sementi
Tim Kohlbecker’s Lady Warrior basketball team was without a doubt one of the best defensive squads in the state this year but it just wasn’t enough this past week as the ladies in black and gold came up a few points short in the post season. The Lady Warriors relinquished a mere sixty-five points or just over thirty-two points a game in their skirmishes at the St Joseph Ogden Regional.
Kohlbecker’s crew held off a good Clinton squad 33-31 on Monday, February 10 thanks to late heroics provided by senior Abbey Jacob. One night later it was a different outcome as the ladies in black and gold fell to the host Spartans in the semi-finals 34-32 in a defensive slugfest. The Warriors held their top ten ranked hosts to their lowest point total of the season.
Brynn Tabeling led the way for coach K scoring a team-best eleven points in the loss, including a three for four effort at the free throw line. She also donated five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals to the cause. Next up was Marissa Russo in the post adding eight points on three of six from the field. Jacob connected on a pair from beyond the arc scoring adding six points to the team totals.
Tuscola leaned on the long ball in the opening frame getting a three from both Jacob and Hope Dietrich. Tabeling finished off a pair from the line late in the period putting the Warriors in front 10-8 at the first buzzer. In the second Russo and Sophia Kremitzki came up with buckets down low but a late run by the Spartans put them in front at the break 20-16.
Tabeling and her buddies contested every SJO shot in the third limiting the high-powered offense to just one bucket and two points total. The junior guard was strong on the offensive end hitting two jumpers and a runner while finding her way to the charity stripe for three more points scoring nine in the third frame putting the Warriors in front by five 27-22 heading to the final frame.
The home team erased the five-point lead with a three and a pair of buckets then hit a two more in the paint down the stretch moving in front by two with just over a minute left on the clock and then held on. Jacob strolled outside the arc early in the quarter for her second three of the game and Russo hit a big bucket late but that was it for the Warriors in the final eight minutes of the action scoring five points total.
“We came out a bit flat tonight, maybe a hangover from the night before, but once we raised our energy level our defense picked up and we held a top ten, high-scoring team to thirty-four points,” Kohlbecker stated. “Our girls competed, fought hard, but once again we came up short on the offensive end. And we had a few too many turnovers.”
It was the same scenario the night prior verse Clinton as both teams looked to their defenses to show the way. Clinton’s offense struggled early and Tuscola’s late but the Warriors eleven-point lead after three frames and a jump stop bucket by Jacob with fifty-three seconds left was just enough to secure a Warrior advancement. Tabeling was big in the final stanza hitting three of four from the line in the final three minutes of the contest. She reached the double-digit plateau tallying eleven points. Jacob led the way for Tuscola ending the night with a career and game-best twelve points on four of nine from the floor and two of five from beyond the arc. Russo checked in with six points and four rebounds while Dietrich banged her way to two points and nine rebounds.
“Abbey played a tremendous game and refused to let us lose, what a time and stage for her to have a career high, as well as taking two charges!” commented the coach. “Our team defense and the job Sophie did, combined to hold their best and a first team all conference player scoreless, our girls allowed just three Clinton players score in the game. I’m incredibly proud of how hard this team played all year long. With everyone making improvements I think we could be a force in central Illinois next year.”