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Pioneers shoot down Jets

Malcolm Montgomery may want to petition the TSSAA to have Whiteout night every time the Warren County High School boys basketball team plays. When the toilet paper flies, the Pioneers are undefeated.
Warren County defended its home court for the third straight year on Whiteout night Friday as the Pioneers downed the Cumberland County Jets 67-50.
Warren County (11-13) knew coming into the game the Jets had a reputation of putting up big offensive numbers, especially the trio of Dylan Qualls, Tayler Houston and Logan Parsons. The Pioneers held the trio of Jets to 40 points, nearly half what they scored in a big upset win over Cookeville two weeks ago.
Instead, it was Warren County that had a big night on offense as four different Pioneers reached double figures. Senior Tucker Smith led the way with 24 points, his fifth game with more than 20 points.
The game started with fans in the stands eagerly anticipating the first basket. After Pioneer seniors Smith, Kendall Rutledge and Nick Simmons decided they would take the technical foul after the first made basket, fans were free to litter Charlie Dalton Gym with toilet paper.
Rutledge made sure the Pioneer faithful wouldn’t have to wait long. Rutledge drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner one minute into the game as players went scrambling to the bench. Toilet paper covered the court, but a quick pickup let action continue after a few minutes.
Houston split the technical free throws, then buried a 3-pointer to give the Jets an early 4-3 lead. It proved to be the last time Cumberland County was in front as Lee Carden led the Pioneers’ most dominant stretch of play this season.
Carden got the hot hand during a 20-0 run to close out the first quarter that put the Pioneers ahead 23-4. The junior forward cleaned the glass for two putbacks, nailed a long range 3-pointer from the left wing and capped the run with a slicing layup that ended up being a three-point play.
The Pioneers fed off Carden’s energy as Smith added six points and Simmons chipped in four during the spurt that shocked the visiting Jets.
Sophomore Edgar Morales came off the bench to start the second quarter with a basket, making it a 21-point game just a few seconds into the period.
The Jets finally found their footing with a 9-0 run to close the gap, but Morales hit his second shot of the quarter to stop the spurt. The teams battled back and forth for the rest of the first half with action ending after layups from Rutledge and Smith put the Pioneers in front 33-20 at the break.
Smith continued his scoring surge with six points in the third quarter, but the Jets were able to narrow the gap to 42-31 going into the final quarter.
Instead of panicking when the Jets crept back in the game, Warren County clinched the win with senior-led run to start the fourth quarter.
Simmons got a good feed from point guard D’Andre League for a baseline jumper to start the period, then Rutledge got to the rim for two uncontested layups as Warren County went ahead 48-31 and forced a time-out from the Jets.
Smith made it 50-31 on a layup out of the short break, but the Jets had one last rally waiting. Qualls scored 10 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, including connecting on a three-point play that drew Cumberland County with 10 at 54-44 with 2:44 left.
Rutledge and Smith responded with back-to-back layups that assured the Pioneers their second District 6-AAA win of the season. Warren County moved to 2-1 in District 6-AAA play with Friday’s win.
The Pioneers will look to make it 3-1 in district play Tuesday night when the team visits Cookeville to tangle with the Cavaliers. Play is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

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