Beating a team once can be easy. Winning the rematch is often the difficult part.
The Warren County High School girls basketball team made defeating a familiar foe look easy on Monday when the Lady Pioneers won two games against Rhea County and the Middle Tennessee Heat.
Playing in the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament at Charlie Dalton Gym, the Lady Pioneers were able to fend off Rhea County 42-32 and beat the Heat 37-29.
Warren County knew its opposition very well in the first day of the four-day Sun Drop Romp.
The Lady Pioneers faced Rhea County on opening night of the basketball season and won by one in overtime.
With Lauren Wilkinson leading the way, Warren County didn’t need overtime to pick up the win this time around.
Wilkinson scored 20 points, most coming in the first quarter, to help the Lady Pioneers advance in the 10-team ladies bracket.
Wilkinson was on the mark from the opening tip. The star senior scored 11 points in the first quarter, including drilling three 3-pointers in the first eight minutes.
Warren County built a 13-5 lead behind Wilkinson’s big first quarter, but Rhea County cut the lead to 18-13 by halftime.
Rhea County took the lead from the Lady Pioneers midway through the third quarter, but two big plays down the stretch were key to Warren County winning.
Bree Smith gave Warren County the lead back with a three-point play with a minute to go and Wilkinson followed with a run-out layup.
On the final play of the third, Taylor Johnson hit Megan Dishman on a high-low pass to give the junior her own opportunity for a three-point play. Dishman missed the free throw, but the late surge gave Warren County a 28-22 lead entering the final quarter.
Spotty shooting from the free-throw line by the Lady Pioneers kept Rhea County in the game in the fourth, but Warren County did just enough from the free-throw line to seal the deal.
Warren County shot 20 free throws in the final quarter as Rhea County started fouling to extend the game with three minutes to go.
The Lady Pioneers connected on half their attempts, led by Camerie Martin hitting four. The 10 points from the line and baskets from Wilkinson and Dishman were enough to give Warren County a 10-point victory.
Wilkinson’s 20 points were a team high. Smith scored nine points and Dishman added eight.
After playing its first game at 11:30 a.m., Warren County was back on the court six hours later to take on the Middle Tennessee Heat.
Warren County defeated the home-schooled team by 12 last week, but had a little more trouble extinguishing the Heat on Monday.
With Wilkinson hampered by foul trouble and a box-and-one defense devised to limit her attempts, Smith stepped up to lead the Lady Pioneers to victory. The senior guard scored 12 points to help Warren County improve to 9-2.
The Lady Pioneers and Heat swapped the lead multiple times in the first half and Warren County went to halftime leading 16-15 when Wilkinson hit a layup at the buzzer.
The third quarter was when Warren County started to pull away. With Smith guiding the offense, the Lady Pioneers built a 29-23 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Smith was the catalyst as she scored twice from the field and handed out two assists in the quarter.
Johnson dominated the paint in the fourth to finish off the Heat. Johnson scored five points in the fourth quarter, including a big three-point play to move the lead into double figures.
The Lady Pioneer defense limited the Heat to six points in the final period to win by eight.
Wilkinson, who fouled out with three minutes to play, was limited to eight points against the Heat. Johnson added six points and six rebounds.
Warren County will play again tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinals of the Sun Drop Romp. The Lady Pioneers will face Stone Memorial after the Crossville team defeated Coffee County on Monday night.
Warren County will play again on Friday and the time will be based on the result from Thursday’s game.