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Warriors take down Pioneers

Beating one of the best teams in District 6-AAA is hard enough with a full roster, but winning without your leading scorer makes the task nearly impossible.
The Warren County High School boys basketball team dropped its third straight district game Tuesday night without senior Tucker Smith, losing to the White County Warriors 66-58 at Charlie Dalton Gym.
Warren County (11-16) has played competitively without Smith, who is out with an illness, but the wins have not come as the Pioneers have lacked the ability to finish against district opponents.
After going to halftime trailing 36-34, the Pioneers were outscored by six in the second half as White County got a huge boost by returning its emotional leader on the same night Warren County sorely missed its top player.
Devon Davidson, a two-time All-District 6-AAA selection, played in the fourth quarter for White County after sitting out the team’s first 25 games with a leg injury.
While Davidson’s impact didn’t show on the score book, the point guard scored only two points, his presence seemed to fuel the Warriors as the visiting team held off a late Pioneer rally.
White County led 53-46 entering the fourth quarter, but Warren County made an early charge that cut the lead to four with six minutes to play.
D’Andre League, who had just picked up his fourth foul, got a steal off an inbounds play and raced to the other end for a potential layup. He was fouled on the attempt and he sank both free throws to cut the lead to 53-49, but he had to go to the bench as coach Malcolm Montgomery didn’t want to risk losing his point guard to his fifth foul with six minutes left.
After White County pushed the lead back to seven during League’s absence, coach Montgomery had no choice but to send his fiery floor general back on the court. League made an instant impact, forcing another steal he converted into a run-out layup to make it 60-55 with 3:30 to play.
Warren County couldn’t get any closer though as the Warriors played stall ball to perfection down the stretch. One White County possession lasted a full minute, which finished with Dalton Nash feeding A.J. Wilkerson for an easy layup that iced the game with 56 seconds left.
The Pioneers kept pace in the first half behind Nick Simmons and Lee Carden dominating the glass in the first quarter and the solid shooting of senior Kendall Rutledge and junior Ryan Jennings in the second period.
Simmons and Carden pounded away at the Warriors inside to start the game and it led to all 14 of the team’s points. Simmons scored eight of his 14 points in the period while Carden added six.
Rutledge and Jennings combined to scored 19 of Warren County’s 20 second-quarter points, most coming from behind the 3-point line.
Rutledge connected on three 3-pointers in the quarter while Jennings added two as he reached double figures for the second straight game after taking Smith’s place in the starting lineup at Cookeville three games ago.
The barrage of 3-pointers by the Pioneers gave the team a glimmer of hope it would end its two-game skid, but the losing streak continued as White County made the big plays in the fourth quarter.
Rutledge led four Pioneers in double figures with 15 points, followed closely by Simmons with 14. Carden scored 13 while Jennings added 10.
Kane Young, a former Warren County Middle School basketball player who has became a star for the Warriors, led White County with 18 points. Wilkerson and Nash had 13 points apiece.
The Pioneers return to action tonight in Cannon County against the Lions. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

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