Obstacles kept stacking up for the Pioneers. The deficit reached double figures. Tyree Ladet was hit with a technical foul. Isaiah Grayson fouled out amidst a career night.
None of it mattered.
Warren County used a 20-3 run in the final 3:30 to come back and defeat White County 66-61 Tuesday night at Charlie Dalton Gym, its largest fourth-quarter comeback this season.
“This group never stopped doing what was asked of them. They just made winning play after winning play down the stretch,” said coach Chris Sullens. “We had guys stepping up late – (Caleb) Newby hit two big free throws and drew a charge, Sloan (Seymour) hit two big free throws and, at the end, Chance Hobbs said he wanted the ball in his hands to ice it.”
Warren County (17-4) trailed 58-46 with 3:30 left when Grayson began the comeback with a 3-pointer. It came on a night when the senior scored a season-high 31 points, but watched the final minutes after fouling out.
“White County basically left it to Isaiah to get as many points as he could,” said Sullens. “Defensively, they made it tough for our guards to get open looks. Isaiah had a great game to counter.”
Even with Grayson’s big night – he scored 18 of his team’s 26 points in the second and third quarters – the Pioneers seemed destined for a letdown. Ladet being hit with a technical foul in the final two minutes seemed to make matters more difficult, but it turned out to be the turning point for the Pioneers.
White County missed both of the ensuing free throws and was called for a charge on the inbounds pass on the ensuing play, swinging the momentum to the home team.
The Pioneers scored soon after, then got a gift when White County missed two free throws – part of a fourth-quarter swoon where the Warriors went 3-for-12 from the charity stripe.
Hobbs brought a raucous crowd to its feet when he finally got loose for a look and buried a 3-pointer with 1:30 to play to cut the lead to 58-54.
Following a Warren County foul, the Warriors were back on the line. Both shots clanked and Newby was fouled on the rebound, leaving the senior to make the long walk to the other end for a one-and-one situation. Newby sank both to cut the lead to two.
White County responded with two more missed free throws, the second snatched by Seymour. He wasted little time pushing upcourt, stopping just short of the rim to shuffle a pass to Newby, who was wide open for the game-tying layup with 1:10 left.
Newby continued his late heroics by drawing a charge on White County’s next possession, giving the Pioneers the ball and a chance to take the lead.
It was fitting the ball found Newby once again. Irving Espinoza, limited to four points with White County’s defense designed to stop the smooth-shooting sophomore, went into a crowd and spotted Newby unguarded under the rim. His layup fell with :46 to play, giving the Pioneers a 60-58 lead.
White County missed on a game-tying look, followed by Seymour knocking down a pair of free throws. Hobbs stepped to the line twice in the final 20 seconds and sunk four free throws, helping the Pioneers to a perfect 14-for-14 performance on foul shots.
The Pioneers will go for the season sweep of Stone Memorial Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Warren County also plays Shelbyville in a make-up game Saturday at 3:30 p.m.