By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s basketball team traveled south this past Saturday taking part in the Central Illinois Conference and National Trail Conference Shootout. Grant Hardwick came up big in overtime for the Warriors scoring five points on a three ball and two free throws helping the Warriors secure a win over Altamont 53-50 the top team out of the NTC. He scored eleven points all after the break on a pair of threes and a three for four effort at the free throw line.
The two teams traded hoops throughout the first sixteen minutes of the game ending the first frame knotted at seven and headed to the break separated by just two with the Indians in front 16-14 thanks to a late three. Jalen Quinn provided the offensive firepower for coach Justin Bozarth’s Warriors early scoring eight of his nineteen points in the two stanzas. The sophomore who reached the 1000-point mark for his career one night earlier was good on six of twelve from the floor, including a three.
It was a back and forth affair the rest of the way. Hardwick stepped outside the arc for a three to giving Tuscola its first lead of the second half putting the Warriors in front 24-22. Two buckets by the Indians put them back in front before Hardwick found a streaking Cole Cunningham for a bucket and Quinn connected on a long ball, putting Warriors on top 32-28 headed to the fourth.
Altamont fired back with a five-point run only to watch Nick Williams hit a three and Quinn finish off an old fashioned one pushing the Warriors back in front for the sixth lead change of the half. Quinn however picked up his fifth foul exiting the game with forty-eight seconds left on the clock and the Warriors in front by three. Once more Altamont answered this time with a trey as the clock ran down sending the game into overtime.
Hardwick was the first to score connecting on three in the extra period. Cunningham followed with a runner and Tuscola sealed the deal at the line in a game that was physical from the start. Tuscola notched its twenty-third win of the season the most since ‘2005’ moving to 23-3 on the year overall and 6-1 in the CIC.
“That was a great high school basketball game, between two good teams,” stated Bozarth. “It was a good one to help us get ready for the post season, very physical with both teams playing solid defense. Our guys responded late and played hard throughout despite playing last night.”