By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boys and girls basketball teams both got off to a late start due to the pandemic and had to deal with more than a little bit of adversity, a shortened season and no postseason. That however didn’t deter either of girls coach Tim Kohlbecker and boys coach Justin Bozarth’s squads. They took full advantage of what they were giving, playing the first games in the state in both divisions and running out to a combined 14-0 start to open the season both capturing state rankings.
Kohlbecker’s crew which ended the year with just one loss in the league and 15-3 overall was led by a strong senior class. Limestone University commit Brynn Tabeling was the squads MVP, defensive player and free throw award winner. She has been distributing the ball in the coach’s offensive sets and consistently scored going coast to coast after garnering steals. She was a first team All Central Illinois Conference performer and a first team All Area selection by the Champaign News Gazette. Tabeling found classmate Marissa Russo in the low post and the Lakeland Junior College commit was money inside the paint. Russo also grabbed the teams rebound award, which in turn led to all 2nd Team All CIC honors and an All Area Special Mention nod.
Another fourth year player Hope Dietrich was good inside and out and out. She had more than a few double-digit games scoring over 15 points three times this season grabbing Honorable Mention CIC accolades and joined junior Sophie Kremitzki and sophomore Ella Boyer on the News Gazettes Honorable Mention list. Boyer will be called on to run the offense next season with Kremitzki needed to make up for the points vacated by Russo and Dietrich. Junior Maddie Stahler the Warrior Spirit award winner will pick up some of the offensive slack and will also shore up the defense
“It was an extremely successful season when you consider our strength of schedule and 18 games in a relatively short block of time,” stated Kohlbecker. “Our girls were awesome in their approach and how they never complained about lack of tournaments or postseason. They simply played for each other, for love of the game and for their families and school.”
Bozarth’s bunch jumped out to a 7-0 start and ended the year at 13-5 overall and 4-3 in the CIC. They overcame even more adversity dealing with quarantined players twice during the campaign, including the entire senior class for a four-game stretch late in the season. Grant Hardwick, Cole Cunningham, Rohan Patel, Ben Tiezzi and Aiden Beachy hit the ground running when the IHSA and IDPH progressed with the season in late January. Beachy and Tiezzi took home the Warrior Spirit Award at the banquet for the dedication to the black and gold.
Cunningham and Hardwick were dead eyes outside the arc and a force on offense both finding their way on the all league team. Hardwick was a second team selection while Cunningham picked up Honorable Mention accolades. Both were News Gazette Special Mention All Area members as well. Cunningham also grabbed the team’s Defensive Award following his final tour of gyms around the area.
Junior Jalen Quinn was a human highlight reel making it look like a video game at times. The big time recruit resides as near the top of all players in his class in the state of Illinois. His 24.5 points per game, eight rebounds and four assists led to a CIC first team Unanimous Choice. Quinn was a first team News Gazette All Area selection for the third time in his three-year career and was named NG Player of the year. It doesn’t stop there. First team All State honors for the second time came from the Illinois Coaches Association and the News Gazette while also collecting the teams Rebound, Free Throw and MVP awards.
Junior postman Haven Hatfield and NG Honorable Mention pick patrolled the paint for the Warriors and will be called upon next year to pick up some of the points lost on offense from the seniors departure. Classmates Preston Brown, Thomas Brown, Rajan Patel and James Parsley will fill the void as well. Sophomores Colton Musgrave, Bobby Fancher and Easton Cunningham all came up big in the games the seniors missed and two freshmen made a name for themselves as well. Jordyn Quinn and Josiah Hortin provided Bozarth with an athletic big man in the paint and a speedy guard with a solid three ball outside.