By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boys basketball team returned to the friendly confines of historic Tuscola Gymnasium last week and not only celebrated senior night and a pair of Central Illinois Conference victories they also recognized the accomplishments of super soph Jalen Quinn. Quinn became the seventeenth and the youngest player in Warrior history to reach the century mark. The speedy guard entered Friday’s game against Meridian last Friday twenty-five points short of 1000 and nearly accomplished the feat in the first half scoring twenty-two of his game high thirty-one points in the first sixteen minutes of the game.
Senior Jacob Kibler made the most of his last game on the Warrior hardwood scoring sixteen points while also delivering on the boards grabbing a team-best seven rebounds. Classmates Ben Dixon, Silas Hortin and Nick Williams joined him in the starting lineup in the 72-48 win over the visiting Hawks invoking the running clock in the fourth frame for the second time this season. Dixon was good on three of four from the field tallying seven points while Williams and Hortin combined for four points, four assists, three steals and six rebounds.
Quinn came out firing hitting three of his four-threes in the game in the first frame. Kibler stepped outside the arc early as well helping hand coach Boz a thirteen-point lead 22-9 at the first buzzer. Junior Cole Cunningham was the next to do some long-range damage hitting a pair of threes midway thru the second period. Dixon attacked the low post for two buckets right before the break and then drained a three early in the third as Tuscola ran away and hid entering the fourth stanza on top 69-42. Another third year Grant Hardwick set the thirty-point running clock in motion with an early three in the fourth allowing Bozarth to empty his bench early securing win number twenty-one of the year.
Quinn was just as dominate a few nights earlier on Tuesday scoring a game-high twenty-nine points helping head coach Justin Bozarth’s squad avenge an earlier loss by downing a good St Teresa team 56-48. In all he accounted for sixty points in the two CIC wins as the Warriors won their third in a row moving to 22-3 overall and now own victories over two of the three teams they had lost to.
Next in line was Hardwick with eight points followed by Cunningham with seven points and Kibler and Dixon with six points. Tuscola set the tone on defense at the start of both halves limiting the Bulldogs to six points in the first quarter and four points in the third. Quinn hit his first of three-threes early in the game and then sank his other two in the second but it was not enough as the Bulldogs rode an 8-2 run late in the half to a 24-23 lead at the break.
Quinn and Hardwick responded in the third with a combined eleven points while the Warrior defense allowed just two field goals moving in front by eight 36-28 entering the final sixteen minutes of action. Bozarth’s bunch closed the door on the conference win at the line sinking nine of eleven from the charity stripe.
The Bulldogs came out on the right side of the scoreboard in the prelim taking advantage of Warrior turnovers in a 48-26 victory. Haven Hatfield scored in every stanza on his way to a Tuscola best eight points. Ben Teizzi was next up with six points followed by Rohan Patel who ended his night with five points. Coach Jacob Hilgendorf’s squad switched it up later in the week downing Meridian’s JV 62-46. Teizzi hit a pair of threes in the first and three total on his way to a game-high twenty points. Hatfield hit two threes in the first also scoring seventeen points in all while Patel stepped outside for two threes and eleven points.