The recipe for success has been pretty simple for the Warren County High School girls basketball team. Coach Erick Baird needs his team to play solid defense, rebound and get seniors Lauren Wilkinson and Bree Smith the ball on offense.
On Friday night in Van Buren County, the defense held its opponent to 25 points, the Lady Pioneers collected 40 rebounds and Wilkinson and Smith combined for 36 points as Warren County won 44-25 over the Eaglettes.
Warren County went into play Friday night sporting a 5-1 record and was hopeful its senior leaders could once again power the team to victory.
Wilkinson and Smith did their part, as the duo combined for all of the team’s first-half points and scored all but eight of the team’s total points.
Wilkinson got the game started off in the Lady Pioneers’ favor. After winning the tip, Warren County ran a set play for Wilkinson and sophomore Jessie Newby, who earned her first varsity start, hit her senior teammate with a perfect pass for an easy layup.
Van Buren County answered back with a free throw and a 3-pointer to take a small 4-2 lead, but Wilkinson put back her own miss on the next possession to ignite a 11-0 run.
Smith followed by slicing to the basket for a layup while being fouled. Smith completed the three-point play at the free-throw line, then Wilkinson got back into the action by making a bank shot.
After Smith and Wilkinson each scored on layups to make it 13-4 with 1:56 left in the first quarter, Van Buren County called a time-out to regroup.
The Eaglettes scored to end the run, but Wilkinson had one last shot in her repertoire before the quarter ended.
With 10 seconds left and Warren County taking the ball out from underneath its own basket, coach Baird called a play for Wilkinson to pop to the corner for a 3-pointer. Wilkinson got a great screen from Megan Dishman and drained the shot as the Lady Pioneers went to the bench leading 16-6.
The scoring slowed down in the second quarter for Warren County as the Eaglettes made their comeback. Smith opened and closed the period with jumpers, but Van Buren County scored eight points in between to close the gap to 20-14 entering halftime.
The Eaglettes scored the first four points following the break to whittle the Lady Pioneer lead down to two, but it would be the closest Van Buren County would get.
Senior Taylor Johnson widened the lead back to four with a layup off a pass from Smith, then Wilkinson put up six points to push the lead to 28-20.
Camerie Martin got an opportunity to have all eyes on her when she went to the free-throw line with no time left in the third quarter after being fouled on a jumper and the sophomore connected on one-of-two to make it 29-20 entering the fourth.
Warren County scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to push the lead into the double figures. Wilkinson capped off a run that started on a Smith jumper and Megan Dishman layup with a three-point play with 3:35 to play.
After Wilkinson’s free throw, the senior had 22 of Warren County’s 38 points while the Van Buren County team accounted for only 20.
Van Buren County would finish the game with a jumper and 3-pointer to pass Wilkinson, but the large Warren County lead was never threatened.
Wilkinson’s 22-point performance upped her scoring average to 20.5 points per game. Smith finished with 14 points and four assists.