By Lenny Sementi
After suffering their first setbacks of the season coach Tim Kohlbecker’s girls basketball team roared back. The Lady Warriors finished off the Central Illinois Conference season with a victory and then picked up a pair of big time non-conference wins later in the week.
Brynn Tabeling and senior classmates Marissa Russo and Hope Dietrich were the offensive catalysts combining for 51 points in a 59-36 CIC win over Meridian on Monday March, 1. They backed that up on Wednesday with a road win downing a one loss Paxton Buckley Loda on their home floor 58-46 and then ended the week with a 51-40 home win over the always tough Lady Rockets of Tolono Unity 51-40.
“Obviously I’m very proud of how the girls have handled all the adversity of the season,” stated the coach. “They haven’t blinked despite having to wear a mask. Basketball wise their selflessness and ability to share the ball is on another level. It was never more evident than it was against Meridian. Twenty assists on twenty-three field goals, that’s what coaches love to see!”
Tabeling drained a pair of three’s in the first and fourth frames scoring a game-high 18 points on four of seven from the floor while also delivering eight steals and seven assists finding Russo and Dietrich both early in the game as the two squads traded baskets. Dietrich tickled the bottom of the net in the second from outside the arc as did sophomore Ella Boyer helping Kohlbecker’s crew to a double digit lead at the break 25-15. From the Warriors range was on full display en-route to the victory with six three’s in the final 16 minutes of the contest. Both Dietrich and Sophie Kremitzki each accounted for a pair in the final stanza and Tabeling and Boyer each added one as well after the break allowing the coach to sit his starters early.
Russo ended the night just shy of a triple-double with 12 points, ten rebounds and eight steals, and five of seven from the field in the game. Dietrich was next up tallying three treys on her way to 11 points while Kremitzki added eight points to her season totals and Boyer six points.
“Hope had an excellent game and I believe we are a much better team when she is aggressive on offense,” commented coach K. She is shooting the ball very well and combined she and Brynn almost out scored their whole team.
At PBL the two teams combined entered the contest with just three total losses and it showed early in a back and forth affair early before Russo fueled an 8-2 Warrior run to end the first period putting Tuscola up by seven 20-13 at the buzzer. The post scored ten points in the frame on her way to a game and career-high 22 points on 11 made buckets. She also dominated the boards, notching her second consecutive double-double gabbing ten rebounds.
Both Dietrich and Kremitzki hit three’s in the second allowing the Warriors to push their advantage to double-digits entering the break on top 36-26. The two wings delivered 19 points with Kremitzki totaling 11 points and Dietrich eight. Tabeling and Russo and Tuscola’s defense slammed the door in the fourth limiting the Panthers to just a pair of field goals and five points total. Tabeling who ended the night with seven rebounds and five assists found Russo underneath three times in the final frame for buckets as the post outscored the opponent on her own.
“We played and beat a very good one loss team, on the road, with no fan support, including our JV (sequestered in a back room),” Kohlbecker said. “Our girls continue to share the ball with 20 assists on 24 baskets. We also took good care of the ball with only 13 turnovers. Marissa had a monster game and we had four assists from Brynn and 6 from Ella. Taylor Musgrave is quietly becoming a very effective defensive player, she came off the bench to help limit their star player and made her work for everything.”
In game three on Saturday Tuscola utilized a smothering zone defense at the end of both halves, sucking the air out of the gym at times limiting the Rockets single digits in both the second and fourth frames sealing the deal on win number 12. Offensively the Warriors were good on 44 percent from the floor and hit 33 percent from three point land including two big ones from Boyer and Kremitzki late keeping a hard charging Rocket squad at bay.
Tabeling had numerous drives and kick outs to the arc after the break, twice finding Boyer, once in the third and once in the fourth. The speedy guard accumulated a game-high 16 points on three of six from outside the line. Kremitzki also had success from outside hitting draining three treys scoring 13 points while Russo did her damage in the paint also adding 13 points to her season resume.
“Unity has gotten better as the season has worn on, and against us they always play hard,” the coach exclaimed. “Both teams shot the ball well, though it seemed like we lacked easy baskets off of steals like we have been getting lately. We tend to at times play over aggressively on defense which decent teams exploit when it forces us into rotations.”