When my son Ben was fortunate enough to make the WCHS basketball team in October, looking at the schedule was intimidating. There were so many games scattered over Middle Tennesse, it seemed like the next three months of my life would be spent in a gym.
Those three months raced by and not too many Warren County fans are thrilled both the WCHS boys and girls teams took early exits Tuesday night in the district tournament. Just like that, basketball season is over.
For the Pioneers, math finally caught up to them. The boys had beaten Rhea County 11 straight games, including three times this year in three close contests. I said before the district tournament began that Warren County and Rhea County were so closely matched, the Pioneers would probably win 8 times out of 10. Tuesday was one of those two bad nights.
The loss is unfortunate because I wanted to see the Pioneers get another shot at top-seeded Stone Memorial and so did coach Chris Sullens.
“I liked our matchups against Stone Memorial,” said Sullens. “We lost our two games to them by 4 and 5 points and had a chance to tie both games with less than a minute. But we had to get through Rhea County first.”
Looking forward, there’s much to like about this Pioneer team, starting with bruising C.J. Taylor, a hard guy to stop in the post.
“I think C.J. will be in the mix for District Player of the Year in the years to come,” said Sullens. “He brings a physical presence to our basketball team.”
With Taylor providing inside punch, the Pioneers will have outside firepower from sharp shooters Lacedric Cox and Eli Jones. Solid puzzle pieces are in place.
For the WCHS girls, I figured this season would provide much more fruit. With size, ballhandling and perimeter shooting, I thought this was a team ready to make noise.
But something never seemed right. The team didn't reach the potential of its individual parts.
Said coach Shea Panter, “We never had a night where all cylinders were firing.”
Gazing ahead to next year, it promises to be a new-look Lady Pioneer team.
“We’re definitely going to be a smaller team,” said Panter. “I think we’re going to change into the style more teams are going with that has four out and one in. We’ve been playing a more traditional game, working the offense from inside-out. But we’ll transition to a different type of offense where we focus on better shooting and better ballhandling.”
I see the WCHS boys team shaking this one-year hiccup and returning to the region tournament next year. I’m hopeful for a better year for the Lady Pioneers, but losing their best five players is a glaring obstacle.