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Lady Pioneers fall at Rhea County
Shelby Smartt 1.jpg
Freshman Shelby Smartt made her Lady Pioneer debut in Tuesday's 56-41 loss at Community. Warren County will be back in action Saturday against Summit. The Lady Pioneers will tip off at 9 a.m. at Coffee County High School.

Warren County continues to pile up good first halves. Finishing still remains a problem though in district battles.

The Lady Pioneer stood toe-to-toe with Rhea County on the road Tuesday, only to see the Lady Eagles dominate late to win 70-37. It was the third straight game Warren County had stayed competitive in the first 16 minutes, a trend which began at White County and Stone Memorial, before running out of fuel.

Warren County (2-18) had its sights set on a big upset when it went to the half trailing 13-12, but Rhea County – and two-time District 6AAA player of the year Mallory Hampton – woke up following the break.

“We came out and executed the game plan perfectly in the first half to hold them to 13 points,” said Lady Pioneer coach Anthony Lippe. “Going into halftime, it gave us confidence, only to see them come out and really turn the heat up.”

The Lady Eagles built a 35-22 lead entering the fourth quarter, then exploded for 35 points in the final period to cap the blowout. Hampton scored 17 of her 21 points after the break, while Haley Cameron also finished with 21 points in the victory.

Macy Welch added 14 points for the Lady Eagles as she sank four of her team’s nine 3-pointers. Six of those triples came in the fourth quarter when Warren County’s defense, which was suffocating at times early, couldn’t keep up.

“Our turnovers led to transition points for them and that really hurt us,” said Lippe, who saw his team commit 23 turnovers, five more than their season average. “We wanted to keep them in halfcourt sets, but weren’t able to do that in the second half.

“Hampton is tough with her on-ball defense, which caused a lot of issues for us. Offensively, she is hard to keep out of the paint and she can really make the people around her better.”

Warren County got a career-best 13 points from freshman Shelby Smartt while senior Beth Vaughn continued her marksmanship from the outside, hitting four triples for 12 points. In district play, Vaughn is currently averaging 14.7 points per game and hitting 39.4 percent of her outside shots.

Rounding out the Lady Pioneer scoring were Erica Cantrell with four and Lia Wright, Kam Nowlin, Jaden Smartt and Kyra Perkins with two points each.

The Lady Pioneers will make their District 6AAA home debut Friday after playing White County, Stone Memorial and Rhea County all on the road. Charlie Dalton Gym will be a welcome sight for the road-weary team.

“We’re really excited to come back home and show our community how hard we have been working. We hope to play hard and compete against Cookeville,” said Lippe.

Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.