By Lenny Sementi
Coach K and Tuscola’s girls basketball program has hung its hat on outstanding defense to win and win a lot. This year’s version of the Lady Warriors will utilize the same method of operation but in their first two games points were hard to come by for the black and gold falling to both Marshall 49-41 and Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 49-21. It doesn’t get any easier as the Lady Warriors embark on a seven game road trip with six more games to go before they return home to the friendly confines of TCHS Gymnasium.
Kohlbecker’s crew limited Marshall to just one point after the half and ALAH to 13 points before the break. Neither defensive effort was rewarded due to a big lead for the visitors in the opener and the lack of offense down the stretch at Arthur.
“We knew heading into the season with back to back formidable opponents to open the season would be a real test of where we are as a team,” stated coach K.. “In hindsight I feel I did not have the girls as ready to play as they needed to be, and that falls on me. That being said, this group plays extremely hard and when we figure things out we will be tough to beat.”
Senior Sophie Kremitzki tallied the first points of the season hitting a short runner following the opening tip against Marshall before both squads ran off six point runs exchanging leads four times in the first quarter alone. Ella Boyer stepped outside the arc twice in the first frame with the later handing the Warriors an 11-10 lead after one.
It was more of the same early in the second as the two area heavy weights traded leads three more times in the first three minutes of the frame before the Lady Lions moved in front for good with a 17 point scoring explosion. They hit three treys taking a 31-15 advantage with under a minute to play in the first half. Sydney Moss stopped the bleeding with a bucket in the paint but once more the answer from Marshall was swift with a fourth three doubling Tuscola score 34-17. Kremitzki found the bottom of the net at the buzzer, sending the Warriors to the locker room down fifteen.
Kohlbecker applied the defensive clamps after the break and the ladies responded, limiting the Lady Lions to just 15 points in the second half, eight in the third and seven in the fourth. The half time lead however proved too big to overcome despite the defensive effort and a pair of threes from senior Maddie Stahler.
Kremitzki and Boyer did their fair share scoring 18 and 13 points respectively while Stahler donated six points to the cause. Stahler also grabbed five rebounds one less than Harley Woodard who hauled down a team-best six, including three offensive. Seven in the black and gold recorded at least one steal with Woodard once more leading the way with three to her credit. Freshman Lia Patterson was tops in the JV contest netting 13 points in a 52-25 Tuscola victory.
Both teams struggled to score early in Arthur and once more it was Kremitzki that got the ball rolling for Tuscola with a layup off a dribble drive. ALAH scored seven of the next nine points rolling to a 7-3 advantage after 12 minutes of action. ALAH scored first in the second before Izzy Wilcox found her way to the line for coach K. hitting both ends of a one and one and Zoey Thomason swiped a ball at mid court and went coast to coast knotting it at nine’s with six minutes left in the half. Boyer hit a pair from the charity stripe and erased a basket with a charge and Woodard put one back for a bucket making it 13-9 capping a 10-0 Tuscola run. Two late hoops by the Lady Knights knotted it at 13 entering the break.
The two teams traded buckets through most of the third stanza with ALAH getting the upper hand late scoring the final four points entering the finals eight minutes of action on top 26-21. Boyer however picked up her fourth foul late in the frame and her fifth early in the fourth exiting the game with seven minutes left on the clock. The Knights followed with nine straight points and never looked back, limiting the Warriors to just six points down the stretch.
Stahler hit a pair of threes in the contest scoring a team-high six points. Woodard, who had a game-high nine rebounds and Moss were next up each scoring five points while Boyer netted four and Kremitzki three. “Harley is working hard on the boards; she has 15 already but she needs help,” stated the coach. Thomason, Wilcox and Molly Macaulay rounded out the scoring, each donating a bucket. Macaulay came on feed down low from freshman Ava Boyer who ran the point late.
“We showed resilience with our comeback verse, but we had some miscues and missed opportunities that cost us late,” commented Kohlbecker. “At Arthur we can’t go one for 13 from three, shoot 22 percent overall and turn the ball over 24 times and expect to win games. We only have nine assists in eight quarters, which shows the ball is not moving around the offense and we are missing open teammates. Defensively we played hard but again, silly fundamental mistakes cost us. Those mistakes are correctable.”