The Lady Pioneers closed out their final game of the regular season with a win over the Coffee County Lady Raiders on Saturday.
The Lady Raiders controlled the pace and pushed the tempo versus the Lady Pioneer defense. Warren County managed to keep the game close through the first quarter.
The Lady Pioneers made the necessary adjustments and completely dominated the second quarter. Warren County went on an 18-2 second-quarter explosion and gave the Lady Pioneers a 23-12 lead at the break.
The Lady Pioneer offense continued to flex its muscle and attack throughout the second half and Warren County closed the regular season with a decisive 55-37 win.
Marlee Smith, a senior for Warren County, led all scorers with a game-high 17 points after she was held scoreless in the first quarter. She made up for it in the second and worked the low post for all she could get. Smith put up seven of her 18 in the second period.
After a weak and sluggish start by both teams and nearly four minutes with no score, the Lady Pioneers got on the board. Coffee County responded and a basketball game broke out. Both teams struggled to find the range in the first quarter.
Coffee County picked up several baskets in transition off the poor passing decisions made by the Lady Pioneers. Hollie Smithson and Aerial Williams each completed three-point plays for Coffee County.
Saydee Winfree pulled the trigger from behind the arch and hit her mark for the only made 3-pointer of the first quarter. Rylan Moore was hit as she made a quick move to the basket inside the paint. She was awarded two free throws and shot a perfect 2-of-2.
Coffee County led 10-5 at the end of the less-than-stellar first period.
Warren County head coach Shea Panter must have told the Lady Pioneers exactly what they needed to hear. An all-out assault on the ball by Warren County quickly allowed the Lady Pioneers to close the gap.
The Lady Pioneer defense was much more aggressive in the second and they quickly closed the gap on Coffee County. Kristen Rowland knocked down a pair of jumpers over the Lady Raider defense.
Senior sharp-shooter Allison Hitchcock got free and buried a pair of long jumpers for the Lady Pioneers.
The Lady Raiders fell apart on offense and they could only watch as Warren County claimed the lead. They struggled to get the ball through the full-court pressure. If they did get through the pressure defense, the result was a turnover or a Warren County rebound.
The Lady Pioneer offense fed the ball inside to Smith. She was relentless in her pursuit of the basket. Smith dropped shot after shot inside and Coffee County’s defense had no answers for Smith.
Smithson for Coffee County was the only source of offense in the second. She was hit on her way to the basket. She was forced to the free-throw line and shot 2-of-2, the Lady Red Raiders only points of the period. Coffee County trailed 23-12 at the half.
The Lady Pioneers started the second half with the same intensity and fire they had going into halftime. Warren County worked the outside as Coffee County rested back in a 2-3 zone defense.
Emily Mikkola and Hitchcock let it fly from deep behind the arch and both were rewarded for their efforts. Elsa Eckenrod made a quick move to the basket and beat her defender off the dribble. She knocked down a short runner in the lane and buried a pair of free throws in the third.
Smith once again for the second straight quarter controlled the paint. She hit the first of several attempts and the Lady Red Raiders defense collapsed. Smith was fouled and sent to the free-throw line. She hit 3-of-5 in the third.
For Coffee County, Byanka Woods and Abby Morgan scored four points each. Smithson opened up and hit the Lady Red Raiders only 3-pointer of the game. The Lady Red Raiders shot 1-of-12 from behind the arch.
Warren County led 38-23 by the end of the third and continued its dominance in the fourth. Hitchcock and Smith had four each from outside. Winfree and Rowland combined for a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line and Smith shot 1-of-2 down the stretch.
Morgan went inside and dropped in nine of Coffee County’s 14 points in the fourth. The Lady Red Raiders never recovered from the second-quarter assault and they fell to the Lady Pioneers by a final score of 55-37.
The Lady Pioneers will start district tournament play this week.
LADY PIONEER SCORING – Marlee Smith 17, Allison Hitchcock 11, Saydee Winfree 7, Elsa Eckenrod 7, Kristen Rowland 6, Emily Mikkola 3, Rylan Moore 2, Megan Patch 2
LADY RED RAIDER SCORING – Abby Morgan 13, Hollie Smithson 10, Byanka Woods 4, Alliyah Williams 4, Aerial Williams 4, Jacey Vaughn 1, Bailey Morgan 1.