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Dialing long distance
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If being sent to the corner is punishment, somebody forgot to tell Kendall Rutledge.
The senior shooting guard scored a career-high 23 points, including hitting five 3-pointers from the left corner, as the Warren County High School boys basketball team thumped the Tullahoma Wildcats 54-34 Friday night on the road.
Warren County (4-5) put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season with the win over the Wildcats and Rutledge was a huge reason why for the second straight game.
After matching his career high with 20 points in a 40-38 victory over Franklin County Tuesday, Rutledge picked up right where he left off in Tullahoma Friday night.
Rutledge did most of his damage in the first period as the Wildcats failed to locate the smooth-shooting lefty. Rutledge buried four 3-pointers in the first quarter, all from his favorite spot as he rarely strayed from the left corner.
Behind 12 points from Rutledge, along with a straight-away 3-pointer from sophomore Malik Ladet, the Pioneers led Tullahoma 19-11 at the first break.
Junior Dillan Wood gave the Pioneers their first double-digit advantage when he drilled the team’s sixth triple in the first half to start the second quarter.
Wood’s long-range connection was part of a 10-2 run that helped the Pioneers build a 15-point lead. Ladet added his second 3-pointer and Lee Carden, who started the run with a layup, connected on two free throws with 3:36 to play as Warren County took a 29-14 lead.
The Wildcats were able to close the first half on a 6-0 run to make it a nine-point game at halftime, but Rutledge came out in the second half firing.
Rutledge put the Pioneers back ahead by double digits with a slashing layup with 5:17 left in the third quarter, then made his fifth 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 37-23 in favor of the Pioneers.
Ladet added a three-point play moments later as he got a perfectly placed pass from point guard D’Andre League to connect on a layup while getting hit. Ladet fell hard to the floor, but was able to shake off the hit to sink his free throw.
Senior Nick Simmons scored four points in the final 30 seconds of the third quarter to give Warren County a 46-30 advantage entering the final period.
Warren County went nearly five minutes in the fourth quarter without making a shot from the floor, but Rutledge snapped the streak to perverse the Pioneers’ large lead.
Rutledge capped a long possession for the Pioneers with a driving layup with 3:16 left to make it 49-32, then he wrapped up his night with a jumper from the free-throw line on the next possession.
In the final minute, Trace Taylor nailed a late free throw for his first varsity point and Kyler Kominos sank two shots from the charity stripe as Warren County handed the Wildcats a 20-point loss on their home court.
Ladet scored in nine points for the Pioneers as the sophomore had his best game of the season off the bench in Tullahoma.
Warren County will have a week to prepare for its next game. The Pioneers will go for their third straight victory when the team plays at Centennial Saturday. Action is set to start at 7:30 p.m.