By Lenny Sementi
Tim Kohlbecker was all smiles at the end of last week as things developed in the high school sports world in the state of Illinois. He and his squad have been on a roller coaster since November as to whether or not they would be able to play due the pandemic and as of last Monday the chance of that happening was slim to say the least. Then by Friday their fortunes changed as the IDPH gave the go ahead to the IHSA for contact sports like basketball and football to start practicing and playing games if their region resides in the states Phase 4, which Tuscola’s Region 6 does as of last Friday.
The longtime bench boss has always leaned on his seniors to show the way and his smiles were based mainly off his five fourth year players to get their chance to do just that. Hanna Hornaday, Brynn Tabeling, Hope Dietrich, Marissa Russo and Laney Cummings were grinning ear to ear as well knowing they would get to play the game they love a few more times with their best friends.
“This group of young ladies have great chemistry and are always aware of each other’s roles on the floor,” stated coach K. “There is an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Hornaday is a hard working grinder that will bang on the defensive end and add to the point total when called upon the offensive end. “Hannah is a great teammate and a very intelligent player,” commented the coach. “She always knows where to be and when to be there, and as a leader now seems to be playing a lot more relaxed and confident.”
Tabeling burst onto the local basketball scene during her freshman campaign as a defensive specialist that could handle the ball. She added to her offensive game as a sophomore and turned into the team’s leading scorer as a junior. The Limestone University in Gaffney, South Carolina commit has a passion for the game not many can rival and in Kohlbecker’s words has an incredible work ethic, is a tremendous ball handler that has improved in all areas of her game each year in school.
Kohlbecker will also lean on Dietrich in the scoring department. She is one of the most athletic players in the program with an ability to guard anyone on the floor and has developed into one of the best cutters to the lane on the team. “Hope has come a long way,” Kohlbecker told us. “And now she is asserting herself more offensively. Laney is in the same boat, she fits perfectly into our team defensive sets and like Hope has developed her offensive game and has become a good spot up shooter.”
Cummings took over a starting position on the varsity midway through the season a year ago and should be a fixture in the first five this season. As will Russo who might be the best returning scorer in the low post in the area. The coach says “Marissa has worked diligently on her post moves, the best in the area in my opinion, and has put in the time to extend her game outside of the paint. She can now put the ball on the floor and has become an outstanding mid range shooter.”
“I’m very happy this group gets a chance to show what they are capable of now that they are in the forefront. They are collectively very good on defense and their offense has continued to grow and combined with the other classes could be a force in the area.”