By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boys basketball team exited March Madness this past Friday falling to a very good Paxton Buckley Loda squad on the their home floor. The Panthers limited the Warriors to just seventeen points in the first sixteen minutes of the game while delivering forty-three of their own and never looked back winning the PBL Regional Championship game and the right to advance to the Sectional level.
Jalen Quinn led all Warriors with fourteen points including a pair of threes in the second frame. He and Grant Hardwick were the only two in black and gold to score in the first quarter for Tuscola coach Justin Bozarth. Hardwick ended the night with five points all coming in a first frame that saw the Panthers build a double-digit lead six minutes into the contest.
Cole Cunningham came out firing in the third period stepping outside the arc for two threes but once more a hustling PBL defense shut off the lane limiting Tuscola to just eight points in the frame by another ten points ending any hopes of a comeback.
Tuscola advanced to the finals with a 45-38 win over Gibson City in the semi-finals. Quinn led all scorers with eighteen points draining two threes along the way. Ben Dixon was next in line with eleven points followed by Cunningham with nine points. Dixon had been on a run late in the season and finished the victory over the Falcons in style scoring in every stanza. Senior classmate Jacob Kibler was strong late connecting on four of four from the line in the final five minutes of the game. Tuscola wrapped up one of the best seasons in recent history winning twenty-six while losing just four.