By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s basketball teams doubled down this past winter and it’s fair to say it was a great winter inside the friendly confines of historic TCHS gymnasium. There were more than a few things in common with Tuscola’s boys and girls hoops squad when all the dust settled from the 2021-22 season.
Both boys coach Justin Bozarth and girls coach Tim Kohlbecker’s teams tied their respective programs’ single season win total. The ladies in black and gold ended the year with a 24-8 mark while the Jalen Quinn led Warriors posted a 28-7 overall record. Both were in the Monticello Holiday Hoopla Tournament each boasting a pair of All Tourney performers. Both won their respective Central Illinois Conference Tournament title and the boys went one better sharing the regular season CIC crown as well. Both won IHSA Regional Championships and both coaches earned their respective sectional coach of the year awards from the coach association.
The boys, who notched the programs 1,500th win, averaged a monstrous 61.7 points per game, hitting 35 percent of their shots outside the arc. They connected on 249 three’s en-route to a sweet-sixteen berth following a win over the host Bulldogs in the opening round of the St Anthony Sectional. Their shooting progress was just as solid from inside connecting on nearly 50 percent of their shots from the field while grabbing 25 rebounds per contest.
Quinn, a Loyola of Chicago commit and generational player not only became the leading scorer in program history he ran past the 2,000 point threshold despite a shortened junior season due to COVID restrictions. He also became the single season scoring leader ending the year with 844 points averaging 24 points per game, connecting on 56 percent of his shots from the floor, 39 percent from three (75) while grabbing a team best 231 rebounds. He also led the way with 99 steals and 125 assists all earning him the teams MVP, Rebound and Free Throw awards (79 percent).
All that led to a boatload of accolades that will continue to roll in throughout the spring. As of now he has a spot on the 1st team All State Illinois Basketball Coach Association, 1st Team AP all State, 1st Chicago Sun-Times All State Team and 1st Team City/Suburban Hoops Report All State Team. He was named player of the year for “A Baseline View” for the Class 1A Carbondale Super-Sectional Area as well as a unanimous 1st team All CIC selection. And, should be the front-runner for the News Gazette, Herald and Review and WCIA player of the year.
Jordan Quinn was next on the scoring list. The sophomore tallied 273 points scoring just under ten points per game, finishing off 31 threes. He was strong on the boards grabbing a second best 136 rebounds. Then came senior Preston Brown who knocked down 51 percent of his shots from the floor scoring 213 points. Right behind was sophomore guard Josiah Hortin with 201 points and 35 treys. Easton Cunningham was second on the three-point list with 41 to his credit while James Parsley and Colton Musgrave stood out on defense. The duo combined for 64 steals, swiping 40 and 24 respectively earning both the teams defensive awards. Senior Thomas Brown secured the Warrior Spirit Award at the end of the year banquet.
“The 21-22 season was an incredible ride for our players, coaches, and community. This group tied the school record for wins in a season and played in some phenomenal atmospheres,” stated Bozarth. “This is the first Tuscola team to win the CIC and the CIC tournament and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005. We are proud of these guys for their commitment and thankful to play for such a supportive community who showed up and supported these guys every step of the way. It’s an honor to be their coach and we can’t thank them enough for the memories they created this winter.”
Seniors Sophia Kremitzki, Taylor Musgrave and Maddie Stahler joined with juniors Ella Boyer and Harley Woodard to lead the way for the Lady Warriors who were runner-ups in both the Hoopla and the Salt Fork Thanksgiving tournaments. Kremitzki, an all tournament selection in both and a first team CIC honoree left the season ending banquet with some hardware taking home the MVP, rebound (189) and free throw award (79 percent). She ended her career in seventh place on the all time three-pointer list and advanced to the Queen of the Hill three point shootout at the state tournament while adding 374 points to her stat sheet and tallying 748 points during her time in the black and gold.
Ella Boyer joined her on the CIC All conference list and both tourney teams. The junior shattered the all time record for threes in a season hitting 72 of them and now sits just two away from the career record of 111 with her senior yet to come. She led all with 396 points averaging just over 12 per game.
Woodard delivered 189 points and 185 rebounds. Sophomore Sydney Moss was next in line donating 150 points to the cause while Musgrave notched 112 and Stahler 96. Musgrave garnered the team’s Defensive award, hustling her way to 102 steals. Stahler grabbed a plaque as well taking home the Warrior Spirit Award.
“I’m really proud of these ladies, they started the season inexperienced and trying to find out where they all fit in,” commented Kohlbecker. “We were 0-2, then 4-5, playing very tough teams early, continued to progress, improved and ultimately played for three tournament championships-winning conference, and won a regional. We tied a program record for wins, and all of this was accomplished with high character players who showed incredible resilience in dealing with all distractions.”