The WCHS boys basketball team mounted a furious rally to claw back from a nine-point deficit with just :36 remaining, but the Pioneer comeback fell one point shy.
Rhea County clung to life with a 72-71 victory over Warren County in the district tournament play-in game Tuesday night at Stone Memorial High School.
The loss ends Warren County’s season with a 15-13 record. Rhea County advances to face top-seeded Stone Memorial.
C.J. Taylor was like a monster in the paint, pushing Rhea County players aside on his way to a game-high 26 points. Lacedric Cox scored 15 and Sloan Seymour added 11.
Rhea County led from start to finish, jumping out to an 11-1 lead.
But the Pioneers spent the rest of the game fighting back and it was a two-point game, 57-55, with 4:32 to play.
Rhea County matched the Warren County charge with an attack of its own and the Eagles looked like they would soar into the next round of the district tournament up 69-58 with 1:01 to play.
But Rhea County allowed the Pioneers to stay in the game with abysmal 3-for-10 shooting from the foul line in the final minute. During one stretch, the Eagles missed four straight free throws.
The Pioneers countered with two Taylor buckets under the rim where he refused to be denied points. When Cox hit a 3-pointer from the wing, the lead was 70-68 with :11 left.
Rhea County big man Kaleb Laws iced the game with two free throws before Taylor hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to account for the final margin.
Other Warren County scorers were Ethan Smith with eight, Raven Lewandowski with six, Eli Jones with three, and Kason Holder with two.