By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola interim girls basketball coach Mike ‘Rosie’ Rosenbaum and the Lady Warriors shook off a bad night outside the arc and found their way to the winners circle gaining retribution for an earlier loss while collecting a conference crown. Rosenbaum stepped in for sidelined coach Tim Kohlbecker and leaned on the seniors Taylor Musgrave, Sophie Kremitzki and Maddie Stahler. The trio led the way in a 50-38 victory over the top seeded Clinton Maroons in the Central Illinois Conference Tournament championship game this past Thursday, January 27.
When asked about stepping in Rosenbaum stated, “I know I may have been the coach that was standing on the sideline these last two weeks, but it was a full group effort. The coaching staff pretty much all had the same ideas on both ends going into the game, so we work really well together. There were a lot of late nights last week discussing what we were going to do on both ends, and what practice was going to look like while Coach Kohlbecker was on the mend. I’m grateful and honored that Tim trusted coach Quick and myself to run things while he was gone, and it’s always good when the result is a conference championship. Also, shout out to coach Beth Pugh for helping us the week before when the coach couldn’t come to practice or to games. The whole thing was a full group effort.”
Harley Woodard came up big for coach Rosenbaum early scoring six of her game and career high 14 points in the first quarter. She was solid in all aspects of the game tallying points in all four frames while also securing a team best eight rebounds and four steals. Her teammates did some damage at the charity stripe hitting seven of seven from the line in the first eight minutes of action.
“Harley was huge for us tonight,” stated Rosenbaum. “Going into the game, the coaching staff knew her speed and athleticism were going to give us a good offensive matchup, and it was something we were going to have to take advantage of to win the game. She came through for us, and you could see her confidence grow as the game went. Girls kept giving her opportunities for dump offs when we penetrated the lane, and she finished in the lane. Good to see her step up in a big moment where we absolutely needed her.”
When the dust settled Tuscola converted on 95 percent of their attempts at the charity stripe making 21 of 22 free throws in the game. Kremitzki, Isabelle Wilcox and Ella Boyer were perfect, connecting on seven, six and four respectively. Boyer and Musgrave hit the Warriors only threes in the contest both connecting on one in second leading to a 32-16 lead at the break. Boyer hit another early in the third and Rosenbaum stoked the fires on the defensive end, limiting the Maroons to just two points in the first five minutes of the second half. Clinton hit its first field goal at the four minute mark of the third, which was the first since the 3:50 mark of the first quarter. That’s right Clinton was held without a f field goal for nearly sixteen straight minutes during which Musgrave swiped four steals, three that were converted into points on the offensive end.
A 10-2 Maroon run to open the fourth frame cut it to seven and started to foul in an attempt to lengthen the game but Boyer, Kremitzki and Stahler closed the door all hitting both ends of one and ones to secure the victory and first place hardware. Wilcox and freshman Ava Boyer both were big off the bench. Boyer ate minutes in the first half when Stahler was in foul trouble and Wilcox as always added defensive intensity throughout the game.
The Warriors earned their spot in the final with a workmanlike 52-41 win over a gutsy Shelbyville squad two nights earlier. Ella Boyer hit a three in each of the first three frames on her way to 18 points helping give Rosenbaum a 8-10-point cushion throughout.
Kremitzki had another big night at the foul line. The senior drove to the hoop and found her way to the line six times hitting 10 of 12-FT’s in the semi-final skirmish. The black and gold were good on 19 of 23 as a team finishing off a 40 for 45 effort from the line for the week. Sydney Moss was perfect from the field in the game scoring six points. Musgrave added five points to the stat sheet while Wilcox and Molly Macauley donated four apiece.
“Once I found out I needed surgery and the subsequent restrictions, I immediately thought about the team,” stated long time coach Tim Kohlbecker. “I am blessed with two outstanding assistants and I knew we’d be fine. We collaborate all season long, there are lot of late hours planning, discussing and scouting. So really we just continued except most of my input was from a horizontal position! I even sent texts to JQ (assistant coach Justin Quick) during St. T game that he relayed to Mike. I can’t thank them enough for their efforts. I need to give a big time thank you to Beth Pugh who was willing to help out in my absence, at practice and she even traveled to a game, she never even hesitated when I asked!”