By Lenny Sementi
It was tough ending for head girls basketball coach Tim Kohlbecker as his Lady Warriors fell in the semi-finals of the St Joe regional despite limiting the state ranked Spartans on their home floor to their lowest offensive output of year. Tuscola hangs its hat on an outstanding effort and a smothering defense but this season its offense was sporadic at times hitting just 37 percent from the field and just under 60 percent from the free throw line leaving little margin for error.
That being said the long time leader of the tribe utilized the teams talents to the utmost and the ladies in black and gold responded with a 17-9 record overall and a 4-3 mark in the Central Illinois Conference
“This team came a long way, starting in the summer, relative to basketball skills, team chemistry, and togetherness,” commented the coach. “We had to replace four players from last season who played a majority of minutes, and, provided leadership. Before the season started, others thought we might be a .500 team–but I knew the character of this group and we far surpassed the predictions and were within a few points of a twenty-win season and playing for a regional championship. They became a close-knit group as a result of on court and off court activities (volunteer activities–crisis nursery, food drive, cancer night, visiting Jarman Center, team meals). We showed heart and resilience throughout the season as evidenced by the games in which we battled back after digging a hole.”
Seniors Abbey Jacob and Grace Voyles leave the program with eighty-two varsity wins under the belt and a spot on the programs all time record charts. The 2019-2020 squad entered the record books crushing the steals mark swiping an astonishing seventeen per game or 457 total. Jacob was big late in the year hitting key three’s down the stretch and a big time ten-footer against Clinton in the Regional semi-final.
A pair of juniors led the way on offense. Brynn Tabeling a first-team all CIC performer climbed onto the single season free throw percentage top ten list hitting 72 percent of her attempts from the line. She also moved onto the career list residing in tenth overall with a year remaining connecting on 64 percent from the stripe in her three seasons at TCHS. She ended up even higher on the assists and steals list landing in fourth and sixth respectively all time accounting for a team-best 103 assists and 9 steals, all while scoring 321 points, including a team- best 23 threes.
Classmate Marissa Russo topped the scoring and rebound columns at the end of the year pouring in 350- points while grabbing 218 rebounds from her post-position securing her second-team all league honors. She connected on 51 percent of her shots from the field and has hit 52 percent during her career good enough for second all time. Hope Dietrich will also be looking forward to her season campaign next season after bringing down 123 rebounds and scoring 143 points. “Hope is very athletic,” stated the coach. “If she is able to believe in her self a little more and harness that ability the sky is the limit for her next season.”
Sophie Kremitzki will also be a player to watch next winter. The sophomore was solid in all aspects of the game donating 83 rebounds, 30 assists, 63 steals and 152 points to the cause. She was a weapon outside the arc draining fourteen over the course of the season. Freshman Ella Boyer was two back with 12 threes on her way to 104 points tenth best all time for a first year player. She’s nine spots better on the all time freshman steal list, landing at the top after hustling her way to 32 takeaways.
The future is even brighter thanks to JV coach Mike Rosenbaums squad. Maddie Stahler, Boyer and Lainey Cummings led the way offensively handing the first year Warrior bench boss an unblemished 17-0 season. Stahler checked in with 133 points, 46 steals and 32 assists. Boyer who season was ended early due to injury tallied 95 points, 46 steals and 28 assists while Cummings banged the boards for a team best 66 rebounds and shared the wealth collecting 32 assists along the way.
“Going forward, with off-season improvements, we could be a very successful team next year but I emphasize, we need to work on our deficits, which this year was our offense,” Kohlbecker commented. “We need players to develop confidence and not be afraid of failing, that’s how you grow. We need more balanced scoring and improved shooting. There are eight of ten varsity players returning, and, our JV went undefeated this season. Those JV players will without doubt be providing intense competition for jobs and minutes next season, that is a situation that any coach would want and I can’t wait to get started this off season.”