Coach Erick Baird knows the time is now for the Warren County High School girls basketball program. With the majority of his team returning after finishing second in the District 6-AAA tournament and making the program’s first trip to regionals in 12 years, the Lady Pioneers have plenty of expectations this season.
Those expectations are something coach Baird won’t shy away from when talking about his team before the start of the regular season Monday, Nov. 14.
“We’ve got a chance to do some special things this season,” said Baird. “Our girls have been working very hard this offseason and we have some great senior leadership.”
The Lady Pioneer roster features three seniors, two of which earned All-District 6-AAA honors following last season. Point guard Bree Smith and forward Lauren Wilkinson return as the leading scorers for Warren County while post Taylor Johnson is stepping into a starting role this season.
Also bringing varsity experience back are juniors Megan Dishman and Rachel Nokes and sophomores Jessie Newby and Camerie Martin. Coach Baird lists two freshmen on his varsity roster this season, guards Bri Melton and Brittany Myers.
Coach Baird has beefed up the schedule this season in hopes of bringing back some tournament titles and preparing the Lady Pioneers for District 6-AAA competition.
Warren County will play in three tournaments and two Hall of Fame showcases. The Lady Pioneers begin the season with two games in the Rhea County Hall of Fame Classic. Warren County plays Rhea County at 4 p.m. and Rockwood at 6:40 p.m. on Nov. 14.
The second Hall of Fame game will be a home contest against Grundy County on Thursday, Nov. 17. Tip-off for the first game, and all home games at Charlie Dalton Gym will be at 6 p.m.
The first tournament Warren County is scheduled to play is the Thanksgiving Tournament in Cannon County on Nov. 25-26. The Lady Pioneers will face Sequatchie County on Friday, Nov. 25 and Notre Dame the following day.
Coach Baird and the Lady Pioneers will play host to the second annual Sun Drop Romp tournament from Dec. 19-23. The tournament will feature some of the best teams in the state, including Oakland, Cannon County and Stone Memorial.
Following Christmas, the Lady Pioneers will head to Orlando, Fla., for the Windermere Winter Classic. The three-day tournament, which begins Dec. 28, will give Warren County some out-of-state competition as the Lady Pioneers are expected to face teams from Florida and Alabama.
When the calendar flips to 2012, Warren County will get into District 6-AAA play. At last week’s media day, the Lady Pioneers were picked to finish fourth in the five-team district. Cookeville is the preseason favorite.
Warren County plays out of district home-and-home series with Cannon County, Grundy County, Van Buren County, DeKalb County, Franklin County and the Middle Tennessee Heat.
Special home games include Senior night on Feb. 7 and “Pink-Out Night” against Van Buren County on Feb. 13.
Joining coach Baird on his staff for the second straight season are Erica Bragg, Trea Miller and Shawnda Ramsey.