By Lenny Sementi
Senior Ben Dixon showed the way this past Tuesday, February 18 leading Tuscola’s boys basketball team to its fifth straight win downing Neoga on their home floor 49-33. The Warrior post led all scoring accounting for a career best eighteen points on a near perfect nine of ten from the field despite a Neoga defense that was set up to take away anything in the middle of lane. He delivered at least four points in every frame while also finding his way to six blocks and six rebounds.
“Neoga came at us with a different type of junk defense one that we haven’t seen all year,” commented coach Justin Bozarth. “It was much like a diamond and one and it took us a little bit of time to figure out their rotations and be able to adjust to them. The guys really did a good job with ball movement and got us a lot of good looks at the basket. Ben (Dixon) had a career high and Jacob Kibler turned yet another double-double.”
Kibler reached the double-digit plateau scoring ten points on five of eight from the floor. He was even more visible on the boards securing a game-high ten rebounds, three on the offensive end of the floor. Jalen Quinn and Grant Hardwick shared the wealth dishing out a combined seven assists and also found their way to the line eight of twelve at the charity stripe adding seven and five points respectively to the team totals.
Tuscola came out sluggish struggling with the defensive scheme of the home squad falling behind 12-8 at the first buzzer. Dixon was strong from the start with two midrange buckets early. Quinn and Kibler both entered the scorebook in the first eight minutes of action as well. Dixon did his most damage in the second period matching threes by Nick Williams and Donovan Chester with six points of his own helping Bozarth’s boys to a sixteen-point stanza passing up Neoga midway thru the quarter en-route to a 24-17 lead at the break.
Defense ruled the third as the Warriors shut down the home team holding the scoreless from the field while limiting them to just four points. That and four points from Dixon pushed the Tuscola advantage to double-digits entering the fourth up 35-21. Dixon and Kibler each scored twice early in the fourth before Hardwick and Quinn slammed the door on the non-conference win with a combined six for six effort at the line. With the victory Warriors improved to 24-3 overall on the year.
Rohan Patel led the way in the preliminary contest erupting for a career-best seventeen points. The shooting guard was on target outside the arc hitting three threes and was perfect at the line going three for three at the stripe. A pair of sophomores Payton Armstrong and Haven Hatfield were next in line each adding eight points to a 42-26 Warrior win the JV contest.