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1,500 milestone met for the Tuscola Varsity boys basketball team

By Lenny Sementi
With another dominating victory Tuscola’s boys basketball team secured a milestone for the program putting number 1,500 into the win column for the Warriors this past Friday. Eight decades were represented in historic Tuscola High School Gymnasium this past Friday from its hundred plus year history as the Warriors ran away with an 81-24 win over Urbana university High moving to 4-1 on the year. 

Senior Jalen Quinn who hit a milestone of his own earlier in the week by becoming the leading scorer in Tuscola history led the way versus the Illinek’s scoring 16 points on a near perfect seven for nine shooting. Sophomore brother Jordan was next up, donating 14 points to the cause while junior Chris Boyd landed on the double-digit plateau as well, pouring in 12 points. 

Quinn opened the game with a three, classmate James Parsley followed with one of his own and the Warriors never looked back following a short jumper from Haven Hatfield cruising to a 24-3 lead after one. From there it was a team effort moving forward. Preston Brown was tops in the rebound department tallying six boards. The senior was able to enjoy the moment with assistant coach, past player and grandfather Bob Taylor. 

“Being a part of the team that got the 1500th win was very special,” Brown commented. “I got to celebrate it with my grandfather who has had two of his kids contribute to this incredible milestone, and now he’s seen me go through this great program and has coached me through it all. I’m so grateful to have him as not only a coach but a role model.”

In all thirteen players scored in the milestone game for head coach Justin Bozarth. The lead of the Warriors owns 70 of those wins as the leader of the Warriors from the bench and another 70 as a player under Brian Smith. Smith tallied over 190 wins at the helm, second most to Kerry Kinkaid who crossed the 220 win mark. Bill Burress and Gene Murray also cleared the century mark in victories with 170 and a 114 respectively. Current assistant coach Jacob Hilgendorf also garnered more than a few wins as a player during his stint on the floor during the Smith era. 

Bozarth’s bunch from 2020 that included the elder Quinn checks in with a season best 26 wins. During the span the black and gold delivered 17 Regional Championships with the first coming in 1938 and the latest and only one in class 2A in 2019. Kinkaid accounted for five of them, three of the six Sectional titles, and the only Super Sectional Crown that earned the 1989 squad a trip to the State Tournament. Hatfield shared a photo with his father Marke and step brother Josiah Hortin as well as all players present from past teams to celebrate the occasion. 

“What a great accomplishment for the program,” stated Bozarth. “It was incredible to see so many former alumni and coaches at the game as well as hearing from so many who couldn’t make it to the game. As a former player and now coach, our basketball teams have always meant a great deal to me. I’m proud of this current team for pushing us over that top and representing our former players and teams so well. There’s a lot of really special people that have contributed to this program’s success. Those former coaches and players would be proud of the effort and energy that these current guys bring every day.”

The trek to 2,000 came quick as the Warriors tallied win number 1,501 the next afternoon holding off a hard charging St Thomas More team by twelve 62-50 in Champaign. The Sabers slapped on a box and one to open the skirmish in an attempt to slow down Quinn. His buddies answered early questions thanks to three’s by Parsley and Easton Cunningham jumping out to a double-digit advantage 15-4 at the midway point of the first stanza and extending it to 19-6 by the end of one. 

They added four to the lead in the second behind treys by Quinn and Hortin entering the break up 38-21. The third belonged to the home team with the Sabers getting as close as sic during the stanza before Cunningham hit a three at the buzzer sending the Warriors into the final eight minutes with a 47-38 advantage. Quinn hit a three early in the final period and Hortin hit a pair helping the Warriors seal the deal on win number five. 

Quinn was good on all eight from the charity stripe in the second half on his way to a game-high 25 points. Next up was Hortin off the bench who added 13 to his season stat line. Cunningham ended his afternoon with 12 points all of which came from outside the arc. Brown was out front once again in the rebound category with Quinn as each hauled in a game-high seven boards.  

“We got out to a great start vs. STM and scored on our first four possessions against a Box and one for the first time this year,” quipped Bozarth. “Easton had two threes, Parsley another, and Preston had a lay up. We pushed it to a 23-point lead with two minutes to go in the first half and really had them on the ropes. Unfortunately, a 6-0 run by them to close the half boosted their confidence for the second half. We had some breakdowns defensively in the second half but came up with some big shots down the stretch. Hortin and Cunningham both made shots each time we needed it.”

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