By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boys basketball team bounced back from a loss with a three game sweep of their pool at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla Tournament December 27 through the 29. Coach Justin Bozarth’s team came out with an offensive mindset, running their season record to 11-2 overall and earning a spot in the championship game and opportunity to defend their title from the last Hoopla.
Jalen Quinn led the Warriors in their opening round pool game, dunking twice in a big win over a good 11 win Oakwood team. He was good on the outside as well drilling to threes early while scoring ten of his game-high 26 points in the opening frame. He shared the wealth delivering five assists and came up just short of a double-double grabbing nine rebounds.
The boys in black blew open a close game in the second half limiting the Comets to single digits in both the third and fourth quarter securing the 62-42 victory. Haven Hatfield took advantage of the attention shown to Quinn hitting four buckets down low before draining a three ball. The senior post scored 11 points reaching the double-digit plateau for the third straight contest. Jordan Quinn was next with 11 points while Josiah Hortin added eight points to the cause.
‘PB’ Preston Brown moved to the front of the line the next day in the morning game versus Ridgeview. Brown hit a pair of treys in a 24-point first quarter for the Warriors scoring eight of his game-high 20 points helping Tuscola to a 25-11 lead at the first buzzer. Quinn was good on five of eight from the floor in the period en-route to 14 points. The duo combined for 19 rebounds with Brown notching a double-double securing ten
Jordan Quinn checked in with seven points in the skirmish and Easton Cunningham added six points including a three in the second quarter pushing Tuscola’s lead to 16 points 38-22. From that point on defense ruled the court for the Warriors limiting the Mustangs to just 11 points after the half.
Game three was a thriller as Paxton Buckley Loda looked to avenge an earlier drubbing by the Warriors in the season opener. The Panthers were on a mission jumping out to a 10-4 lead after one on the back of a 10-3 run to end the frame. Quinn put one back to start the second and Hatfield and Hortin connected on back to back threes and the race was on as Tuscola moved in front 20-16 with less than three minutes to go on the clock in the first half. PBL fired back with eight straight points to move back in front 27-20 only to watch Easton Cunningham tickle the bottom of the net from three point land just before the buzzer to make it 27-23 Panthers at the break.
The two undefeated pool play teams traded buckets throughout the third and midway through the fourth before the Warriors erased the lead and moved in front for good with the long ball. The Quinn’s combined for three three’s and PB hit one as well before Cunningham ran the length of the floor for a layup to make it 52-48 Warriors. Hortin sealed the deal on the title game invite, hitting both ends of a two shot foul in the waning seconds of the contest.
Quinn led all with 19 points while grabbing eight recounds and dishing out five assists. Hatfield was next in line with 11 points then dame the younger Quinn Jordan with nine points followed by Brown with eight points.
“We opened up pool play with a solid Oakwood. The second half of that game was probably the best two-quarter stretch we had all week,” stated Bozarth. “Defensively, we were very solid in keeping people in front of us which allowed our defense to turn easy points for our offense as we went in transition. Ridgeview and PBL games were sluggish on the second day but was proud of the PBL result. We talked in several huddles that great teams find ways to win on their down nights. We had 20 turnovers, were outrebounded by eight , and shot 7-20 from the free throw line. Those aren’t winning formulas. In addition, we got down seven or nine in the fourth quarter and just kept scrapping to find a way.”