The Warren County High School girls basketball team hasn’t quite figured out how to start tournaments, but the Lady Pioneers know how to finish pretty well.
Playing in the Wildcat Classic held at Hixson High School, Warren County lost its opening game to Loretto 41-38 Thursday night, but bounced back to beat the host school 34-23 Friday.
The Wildcat Classic is the second tournament the Lady Pioneers have participated in over Christmas break. Warren County also played in the Sun Drop Romp tournament at Charlie Dalton Gym, where the Lady Pioneers started with a loss to Rhea County before winning their final three games.
Warren County seemed to follow the same formula while playing right outside of Chattanooga over the weekend.
Facing the Loretto Lady Mustangs, Warren County couldn’t overcome a slow start and foul trouble to win.
The Lady Pioneers hit only one shot in the first quarter, a 3-pointer drained by sophomore Brittany Myers. Going 1-for-12 in the opening period was a problem as Warren County fell behind 10-3.
The inside-outside combination of Bri Melton and Jessie Newby helped the Lady Pioneers begin their comeback in the second quarter.
Newby started by pounding away at the Lady Mustang interior for two baskets. Melton then stretched the defense with a 3-pointer before the halftime buzzer to get the Lady Pioneers within four at 20-16.
Warren County kept chipping away at the lead, mostly getting free throws as each team began to accumulate fouls. Senior Megan Dishman hit two free tosses and Camerie Martin added a make at the charity stripe to draw the Lady Pioneers even with Loretto.
Newby helped give Warren County a lead entering the fourth quarter when she connected on a three-point play.
The Lady Pioneers were clinging to a 28-27 advantage when the final period started, but the team wasn’t at full strength by the time the game ended.
Melton’s second 3-pointer gave the Lady Pioneers hope, but foul trouble took its toll.
Dishman and fellow senior post Rachel Nokes were saddled with foul trouble all game, something Nokes succumbed to late when she picked up her fifth foul. Without the team’s top rebounder and post defender, the Lady Pioneers couldn’t get the stops needed down the stretch to hold on.
Behind Sabrie Sirmones’ seven points in the fourth quarter, part of a 18-point performance by the Lady Mustang, Loretto rallied to win by three and snap the Lady Pioneers’ three-game winning streak.
Newby finished with a team-high 10 points, followed by Myers with nine and Melton with eight.
Warren County turned the tides against the host school Friday. The Lady Pioneers were the team to get off to a hot start, building a 13-point lead at halftime to cruise to an 11-point victory.
While coach Erick Baird saw his team struggle shooting outside against the Hixson Lady Wildcats, two of the team’s biggest shots were 3-pointers.
Martin hit a 3-pointer to close out the first quarter and Myers connected from deep to begin the second quarter to start a 16-1 run by the Lady Pioneers.
Myers would add two more buckets in the second quarter while Martin, Newby and Lexy Holmes each hit layups to put Warren County ahead 20-7 at halftime.
Myers’ second 3-pointer proved to be the only points for the Lady Pioneers in the third quarter, but Warren County made the points hold up.
Five points from Newby in the fourth quarter and layups by Nokes and Dishman were enough to help the Lady Pioneers pick up their 11th win this season.
Coach Baird credited his team’s defense for the victory over the Lady Mustangs.
“We didn’t shoot good from outside. It seemed like we were 3-for-40 on 3-pointers,” said Baird. “We won with defense. Our girls kept them from getting hot from outside and won the battle on the boards.”
Warren County concluded in the Wildcat Classic yesterday. Scores were unavailable at press time.
The Lady Pioneers return to action Friday with their first District 6-AAA game. Warren County will play host to Coffee County with action beginning at 6 p.m.