Saturday's third-place game in the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament turned out to be a District 6-AAA preview. If it was a sign of things to come, the Pioneers could be in trouble.
The Warren County High School boys basketball team was crushed by the Cookeville Cavaliers 62-26. It was the second straight loss for the Pioneers, who started play Friday at Charlie Dalton Gym with four wins in their last five games.
Warren County (8-9) didn't score in the final quarter as the Cavaliers finished the game on a 50-13 run after the Pioneers took a brief lead in the second quarter.
Kendall Rutledge, who was honored as all-tournament, drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to give Warren County a 13-12 lead midway through the second quarter.
It proved to be the final time the game was close though. Using their speed and size to fluster the Pioneers, the Cavaliers ended the first half on 16-4 run to lead by 11 at halftime.
Cookeville kept pushing the pace when play resumed. Before Warren County could get warmed up, the Cavaliers had widened the gap to 20.
Junior D'Andre League sank a 3-pointer with a minute to go in the third period which proved to be the final points for the Pioneers.
Cookeville outscored Warren County 16-0 in the fourth quarter to win by 36 despite playing without starting point guard Philip Roper.
Warren County also wasn't full strength as starting center Nick Simmons missed the game with flu-like symptoms.
Play was slow out of the gate, with Cookeville finding a way to take a lead into the first quarter with a layup right before the buzzer.
Warren County got early baskets from Smith and Lee Carden, but the Pioneers clearly lacked the presence of Simmons in the paint as Cookeville was able to get to the rim at will from the outset.
Rutledge led the Pioneers with eight points, followed by League with five. Senior Tucker Smith, who also earned all-tournament recognition, finished with four points. Smith averaged 17 points per game in the Pioneers’ first three games of the tournament.
Warren County placed fourth in the 14-team bracket by finishing play in the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament with a 2-2 record.