Friday night in McMinnville was Gold Out night, and it did not hardly go as planned for the Warren County Pioneers in their matchup against district rival Cookeville.
The Cavaliers would not overpower the Pioneers out of the gate, yet they would try and wear them down over the course of the game with their physical play. Cookeville would leave Charlie Dalton Gym with a win, 56-33.
Holden Baker would be the lone Pioneer to reach double digits, scoring 11 points to lead Warren County. It was not the lack of effort by the Pioneers, but rather the lack of controlling the ball as turnovers have really plagued the team as of late and it cost them again Friday night.
Neither team pushed the pace in the opening quarter. Cookeville had a slight size advantage and crashed the boards controlling the rebounding on both ends of the floor.
Pioneer Carlos Villegas had an open look at a 3-pointer and Cookeville got overly aggressive and fouled Villegas sending him to the line for three shots. He would hit 2-of-3 for Warren County.
Cookeville forced the ball inside to its post player for much of the first quarter and relied on the guards to drive and draw the contact. The Cavaliers shot 4-of-6 from the free-throw line in the first quarter, and at the end of one Cookeville owned the lead, 12-8.
Krojhn Calbert for Warren County would pick up early fouls against the much more aggressive Cavaliers.
The second quarter was when things really got physical for both teams. Baker for Warren County went after a loose ball and found a Cavalier on top of him and before the whistle had blown the Cookeville player had some choice words and drew a fist back as to hit Baker.
The officials stepped in, but not before a Cookeville player left the bench and coaches for both teams tried to control the situation. When the dust settled, Cookeville was called for a loose ball foul, and then a technical foul for drawing a fist and finally, a second technical foul for the player leaving the bench and that player was ejected from the game and led back to the locker room.
Baker would shoot a total of six free throws and he was able to connect on five to claim the lead for Warren County, 13-12, with 5:17 to play in the second. The lead would be short lived as Cookeville would reclaim the lead and never look back.
The Cookeville defense really had Warren County covered inside. More turnovers and too many passes would keep the Pioneers behind heading into the half by a score of 24-18.
Coming out in the second half, it was clear the intentions of the Cavaliers. The defense intended on closing off all openings to the basket for Warren County. The shot selection was not anywhere near what the Pioneers have been used to seeing. Baker would connect from long range on two different occasions to keep the little bit of momentum alive for Warren County, and at the end of the third it was still Cookeville in front, 41-29.
In the beginning of the fourth, it was Isaac Golden stepping back and shooting from way out behind the 3-point line, connecting and cutting the lead to 11, at 43-32 with 5:31 to play. From that point is where things really started to go south for Warren County.
Cookeville kicked its game into high gear on both offense and defense, and the Pioneers were caught off guard. Cookeville had quickened the pace and the ever-present turnovers were back for Warren County. Consecutive possessions for the Pioneers resulted in transition points for Cookeville as the Cavs raced back in the other direction with the ball.
Lost possessions and turnovers had taken their toll on the Pioneers mentally and coach Chris Sullens had seen enough. At 51-33, Sullens cleared the bench and sat down all five Pioneers and the fans started to head for the exits.
Warren County will be back in action against Rhea County at home on Jan. 16 with a game time of 6 p.m.
PIONEER SCORING – Holden Baker 11, Isaac Golden 5, Isaiah Grayson 4, Christian Wilkinson 4, Krojhn Calbert 4, Carlos Villegas 3, Joelah Solomon 2
CAVALIER TOP SCORERS – Trey Bundrant 21, Solon Carver 16, Will Buford 10