By Lenny Sementi
After Tuscola’s boys basketball team’s opening night beat down of a good PBL squad, ‘a fun watch,’ is an understatement. Senior Loyola commit Jalen Quinn is reason enough to circle the boys in black and gold game days on your calendar but if the supporting cast of characters plays like they did in the opener the Warriors are a must see. Jump on the bandwagon now because their domination of the visiting Panthers in a 62-31 win on Tuesday, November 23 is any indication of the future of this squad. You don’t want to miss a minute of it.
Easton Cunningham got the season started in style for Bozarth’s boys, draining a three following the tip. Quinn then went to work scoring the next seven points of the game kicking it off with an acrobatic runner following a steal. Cunningham was next to tickle the net again and then it was Haven Hatfield’s turn making it 14-0 Warriors with three minutes remaining in the first frame.
Quinn followed the Panthers first points up with another bucket and then punctuated the first eight minutes of action with a steal at midcourt and a highlight reel dunk on a coast-to-coast jaunt in the waning seconds of the quarter. Sandwiched in between Quinn’s score was a deep three ball by senior guard James Parsley making it 21-3 Tuscola at the first buzzer.
Senior Preston Brown went to work in the second scoring the first seven points for the Warriors in the stanza pushing Tuscola’s lead past the 20 point mark on the way to a 33-9 advantage at the break. Quinn hit a pair of three’s early in the third, Cunningham and Josiah Hortin followed with trey’s of their own before Quinn hit his third three of the game ending all hopes of a Panther comeback. Tuscola set the 30-point running clock in motion for the rest of the contest entering the final eight minutes of action in front on top 54-23.
Quinn led all scorers with 27 points on ten of 15 from the field. He also was tops in three other stat columns donating seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals to the cause. Parsley and Cunningham also showed up on defense each posting 4-steals to the stat line while combining for 13 points. All five starters scored in the contest and ten Warriors in all.
“We got off to a great start and a lot of that had to do with our defensive intensity and energy,” stated Bozarth. “Easton and James in particular did a great job fighting through ball screens to get PBL’s offense a little out of sorts early. We felt really good about our rotation throughout the night which allows guys to be fresh especially early in the season as we play our way into shape.”
The Warriors open the week with Villa Grove and end it with a trip to Brownsburg, Indiana on Saturday December 4 at 11:30, Indiana time, competing in the All State Sneakers for Santa Shootout.
“We are really looking forward to our game against 21st Charter Academy out of Gary, Indiana,” Bozarth commented. “They’re the pre-season favorites to win the small school state title in Indiana with three future division 1 basketball players. It’s a great early test for us to see where we stand. They’ll overwhelm us athletically and with their size so we are most looking forward to seeing how we respond to that from a fundamental standpoint in a big time environment.”