Coulter, Tribe earn commanding win over Warriors

Coulter, Tribe earn commanding win over Warriors

TUSCOLA — Philip Coulter is used to change.

In his fourth season with Judah Christian boys’ basketball, the senior is on his fourth head coach.

For Coulter and his pals, that’s no problem.

As of now, there’s no altering the Tribe’s successful trajectory.

Coulter tied for a game-high with 20 points as Judah Christian knocked off Tuscola 75-49 on Friday night, a much more decisive triumph than the Tribe’s 66-63 victory over the Warriors in Champaign last year.

“It’s satisfying to kind of establish our spot after some people had doubts about us,” Coulter said. “It just feels good to come in here and show people that we’re still out here, we still got it.”

Senior Connor Lash deposited 16 points on the power of four three-pointers, and junior Noah Jackson added 12 points as Judah Christian (8-1) earned its seventh consecutive win via a diverse attack.

The Tribe was a 32-minute threat from beyond the arc in its prior campaign. But Friday’s first half saw those in purple, gold and white bobbing and weaving within the paint.

Judah Christian converted 12 two-point field goals in that stretch versus just three makes from beyond the arc.

“We’ve definitely got some shooters out there, and we want to utilize those,” first-year Tribe coach Bill Ipsen said. “That’s always kind of been my philosophy: start inside and then work your way outside, and try to make (the opposition) adjust to that.”

The Warriors (5-1) never could do so.

After Tuscola pulled within a 17-14 deficit early in the second quarter, the Tribe went on a 16-4 run to close the period and never looked back.

“They play fast, and we knew we hadn’t seen a team that has played that fast and got up and down the court that well,” Tuscola coach Justin Bozarth said of the visitors. “That’s where they really started to hurt us is we just weren’t getting back on defense. We’re giving up wide-open layups. ... It’s just going to snowball from there.”

Highly-touted Tuscola freshman Jalen Quinn did much of his offense’s heavy lifting with 20 points, finishing one rebound shy of a double-double to boot.

But the Warriors’ other four starters combined for just four field goals — one by each athlete — and not even Tuscola’s 10-of-13 free-throw shooting clip could slow Judah.

Perhaps the biggest issue was the Tribe keying in on Warriors senior center Brayden VonLanken, who averaged 12 points per game during Tuscola’s unbeaten start.

He mustered just six points Friday and was harassed all evening by Judah Christian’s defense.

“We always look at leadership. Their big man is a big leader,” Coulter said. “We just tried to get in their heads — did a good job, shut them down.”

“Brayden’s going to demand a lot of attention. We want to go to him. Everybody knows we want to go to him,” Bozarth added. “To Judah’s credit, they forced us into turnovers on entry passes into him.”

Over on the Tribe sideline, Ipsen’s early returns couldn’t be much better.

The former Unity and St. Teresa coach has seen his new crew falter only to an 8-2 Tri-County club, despite yet-another change in system for the Judah competitors.

Coulter said a trust exists among the Tribe, forged from not being sure who their coach will be at the start of a given run.

On top of that, Coulter indicated last season’s Class 1A sectional semifinal loss to St. Anne is still fresh on the boys’ minds.

Whether or not Ipsen knew to expect it, he has a motivated bunch on his hands.

“They’ve bought into what we’re selling,” Ipsen said. “We’re seeing some fruits of that labor.”