With :51 left Tuesday night, the WCHS boys basketball team had a 1-point lead over Rhea County when they fouled Isaiah Grayson who made one from the charity stripe, 49-47, and the Pioneers found themselves in a heated last-minute battle once again after a tough last-second OT loss to Cookeville.
Thirty-six seconds remained and the Pioneers had the rock after the Golden Eagles turned it back over to Warren County without scoring as the Pioneer D came through in the clutch.
Rhea County’s only option was to foul, and Pioneer Tyree Ladet went to the line and made it a 50-47 Warren County lead which would turn out to be the final score as Rhea County’s outside buzzer beater in the closing seconds wasn’t even close.
“It was a tough, gritty performance,” said Warren County (10-8, 1-2) head coach Chris Sullens. “As we told them all weekend, and Monday in practice and before the game, we would not allow one tough loss to define who we are as a team. Every individual and every team is going to have adversity in life and on the court. How you react to that teaches more than the event itself.”
“We got knocked down but we refused to stay on the ground,” Sullens added. “Very similar situation tonight with 10.7 secs to go as we had in our last game and we executed down the stretch. At this time of year with all the scouting, video and analytics we have now as coaches these are the type games you will play most nights. We didn’t ask them to try harder because the effort was what we wanted. It is our job as coaches to train them better for those moments and situations. We worked on it and I think our kids responded. Defensively a very good team effort as they listened and applied the scouting report we gave them. I’m extremely proud of this ball team. We are ready to get back on floor to prepare for Friday game on the road against another tough district opponent in Stone Memorial.”
Pioneer Caleb Newby really shined as he hit for 5-of-6 foul-line shots, and 12 points inside for a game-high 17 points. Grayson was good driving through the paint and made a 3-of-4 fourth quarter foul shots and 11 total game points.
Newby and Grayson weren’t alone however, as six Pioneers posted points proving it takes 10 hands to make a basket, and maybe four if you count K’Rojhn Calbert’s boards the Pioneers turned into points.
The Pioneer defense was strong, as the Golden Eagles had the height advantage but buckled to the pressure put on by the Pioneers who created as many turnovers as they gave up facing the Rhea County defenders who played all four quarters well.
Warren County takes its show on the road to Crossville Friday, Jan. 20 as the Pioneers play district rivals Stone Memorial. Games begin at 6 p.m.