Only one District 6-AAA girls team was able to navigate the first two months of the season and emerge with a winning record. That team is the Warren County Lady Pioneers.
With district play scheduled to start on Friday night, the Lady Pioneers currently sport the best record with a 10-6 mark.
Despite being picked to finish fourth before the season started in a coach and media poll, Warren County is currently on pace to surpass last year’s win total of 16.
Coach Erick Baird, who is in his third season, has relied heavily on his three-player senior class.
Seniors Lauren Wilkinson and Bree Smith currently lead the team in points while Taylor Johnson has stepped up as a starter this season.
Wilkinson has played the best basketball of her career in her final year at Warren County.
Coming into the season after already passing the 1,000-point mark, Wilkinson has already totaled 318 points this season.
Wilkinson averages 18.7 points, which in nearly half of the team’s 42.7 average for the year.
Smith’s scoring has slowed down after hurting her ankle during the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament, but the senior guard still is second on the team with nine points per game.
With Wilkinson and Smith leading the way, Warren County began the season by winning nine of its first 11 games.
The Lady Pioneers endured a four-game losing streak that spanned through the end of the Sun Drop Romp and start of the Rock Holiday Classic in Orlando, Fla., but a 50-36 win last Friday against First Academy from Florida ended 2011 in style for Warren County.
While Warren County found success in 2011, the other four District 6-AAA teams struggled early.
Cookeville (8-9) has bounced back from a slow start to show why the Lady Cavaliers were voted as the preseason favorite to win District 6-AAA.
The Lady Cavaliers won the Hilton Sandestin Beach tournament title last week and are led by Hannah Goolsby, a leading candidate for district player of the year honors.
Cumberland County (8-9) has outperformed its last-place expectations in the district by already topping its win total from last season, but the Lady Jets still have a lot to prove when play begins Friday.
The Lady Jets were left at home last year as four of the five District 6-AAA teams advance to regionals. Cumberland County and Warren County have met in the play-in game to decide who doesn’t advance in both seasons since the formation of District 6-AAA.
Coffee County (7-11) has been up and down after claiming its first district title in 18 years last season. The Lady Raiders won the district tournament over Warren County last February, but have yet to show consistency on the court this year.
White County (4-12) has suffered the setbacks a young team is expected to have early in the year. Led by two sophomores, Loren Foster and Kelsey Roberts, the Warriorettes suffered through an eight-game losing streak at one point before battling back to finish fourth in the Sonic Shoot-out held in White County and fourth in the Sevier County Winterfest Classic.
Warren County will travel to Coffee County on Friday night to begin district play. Cookeville will also play host to Cumberland County. White County will begin its district season on Friday, Jan. 13 when the Warriorettes come to town to play at Charlie Dalton Gym.
The Lady Pioneers were in action last night when the team traveled to Woodbury to face Cannon County for the second time this season. Scores were unavailable at press time. Check Friday’s Southern Standard for details of last night’s game against the Lady Lions.