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Cleveland to visit The Dalt for battle of state powers
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Lady Pioneers Brienne Kelsey, Shelby Smartt, Sable Winfree and Mia Hobbs will look to win a region tournament game at home at Charlie Dalton Gym on Friday night.

The hope is to have an exuberant crowd in attendance at Charlie Dalton Gym on Friday night when the Cleveland Lady Raiders pay a visit to McMinnville for a region tournament quarterfinal matchup.

Cleveland (23-8) is a formidable foe for the WCHS Lady Pioneers as they try to continue their best season in 23 years. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

“They are tough, but at this stage in the season there are no easy games left,” said WCHS coach Anthony Lippe. “If we’re going to make a run, we’re going to have to beat some good teams.”

Lippe added there is one advantage working in Warren County’s favor.

“We’ve earned the right to play a home game where we don’t have to travel. We hope to have a big home-court advantage Friday night and we’d like for the community to show up and cheer on our team. We'd like to have a full house.”

The Lady Pioneers (23-7) have played remarkably well against opponents not named Coffee County and White County. The Lady Pioneers are 22-1 against the rest of their schedule and 1-6 against Coffee County and White County.

Kyra Perkins, Shelby Smartt and Sable Winfree have been the three most consistent scorers for the Lady Pioneers. All three were named to the All-District team.

Brienne Kelsey has shown she can get hot and score from 3-point range, while Savannah Winfree was a reliable offensive contributor off the bench with 9 points in the District 6-AAAA championship game.

Warren County lost to Coffee County in the championship to finish as the No. 2 seed. Cleveland easily won the District 5-AAAA consolation game against Ooletwah, 63-35, after losing to McMinn County in the tournament semifinals. Cleveland is the No. 3 seed.

Lippe says the Lady Pioneers are rested and ready to play a high-caliber opponent.

“They have some good shooters and a big girl in the post,” said Lippe. “It’s going to take our best effort to win. We need to shoot the ball well, get stops on defense, and try to take away what they do best.”

Should the Lady Pioneers win at home Friday night, their next game will be Monday in the region semifinals. After first-round action, the rest of the region tournament will be played at Coffee County Central High School. 

The region tournament is single elimination in the quarterfinal round so a loss would end the season for the Lady Pioneers.