Before games started last week, District 6-AAA coaches went to the whiteboard and erased their records. What happened in November and December wouldn't matter if district losses piled up in the season's second half.
Warren County coaches Shea Panter and Chris Sullens approached the season reset from different perspectives. For the Lady Pioneers, losers of four of their last five, district games were supposed to be a fresh start. On the other side, Sullens was hopeful his Pioneers wouldn't collapse after starting the season 14-3.
The Lady Pioneers were throttled 78-50 in their district debut at Stone Memorial, with Panter summing it up succinctly.
"It's not the start we wanted in district," Panter said after Tuesday's loss.
The Pioneers pulled away from the Panthers to earn a 52-46 victory.
Up next for both teams is Rhea County Monday at Charlie Dalton Gym.
The Lady Pioneers will be facing a tough test, as the Lady Eagles come into play at 17-3 overall and 1-0 in the district. Rhea County downed Cookeville last week 57-49, getting 23 points from potential district player of the year Micah Black.
Rhea County comes into the contest in a three-way tie for first place. Stone Memorial's win over Warren County also has the Lady Panthers atop the standings, while White County, led by freshman Gracie Dodgen's 23 points, beat Cookeville 62-55 Thursday.
Coach Panter believes the non-district schedule has prepared the Lady Pioneers for the challenge of a tough district.
"I feel our non-district schedule has shown us tough competition," said Panter. "We are going to have to play tough and be willing to sacrifice to win, starting Tuesday with Rhea County.
"It won't come easy or be pretty. It will be a physical battle."
On the boys side, the Pioneers are one of only two teams in District 6-AAA currently with a win. Cookeville (18-4) owns the only others wins, beating Rhea County 63-45 and White County 57-36 last week.
Coach Sullens believes the Cavaliers have already shown why they were the preseason favorite in both the coaches and media polls.
"Cookeville is the team to beat. They have a great backcourt," said Sullens. "There are lots of good guards, including ours, and guard play usually determines a district champion."
The Pioneers get an early look at one of the most dynamic players in the district Tuesday. Eagle senior Jordan Wilkerson is an electric scorer who can play above the rim. In a loss to Cookeville last week, Wilkerson was held to 15 points. On Jan. 5, Wilkerson led Rhea County (13-7, 0-1) to a victory over Kingston while scoring 40 points.
White County (9-11, 0-1) also fell to Cookeville last week, but got worse news when it learned Grant Slatton would be out an extended period. Slatton, who scored 22 points when Warren County defeated the Warriors in the Sonic Shootout finals, took a knee to the face in a contest last week.
White County will travel to play Stone Memorial Tuesday in other district action. Cookeville will play Braldy Central in out-of-district action, but faces Warren County Friday, Jan. 19 for a district showdown.