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Missed layups sink WCHS girls
Hallie Jo Pennington 1.jpg
Senior Hallie Jo Pennington goes up for a layup against Community in Tuesday's 56-41 loss.
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.

Nobody had to guess on why the Lady Pioneers fell in their season opener at Community. Warren County cost itself a victory on missed layups.

The Lady Pioneers missed 29 shots in the paint during their 56-41 loss to the Community ViQueens Tuesday night in a Hall of Champions matchup.

“Our girls played extremely hard and are pulling in the same direction,” said Anthony Lippe, who was coaching his first game after being hired in April. “We did a lot of good things, but we struggled scoring the basketball.”

Warren County shot just 16-of-62 (25.8 percent) overall in its first outing, many missed within three feet. While it was frustrating to see so many short shots rim out, scoring struggles were something most expected with this Lady Pioneer team.

The group lost its top six scorers from last year, giving Lippe a complete rebuilding project over the summer. For a half, it looked like the Lady Pioneers would make their coach a winner in his debut.

Warren County led for most of the first 12 minutes, including taking a 12-11 advantage into the first break. 

Senior Beth Vaughn scored the team’s first points on a corner 3, part of a team-high 11 points as she hit all of her team’s three 3-pointers. 

Fellow senior Hallie Jo Pennington gave her group a big boost with an and-1 with 2:45 to play in the first quarter. Pennington was able to get out on the break following a steal by Jaden Smartt, who fed it forward to her teammate as she streaked toward the goal. Pennington absorbed contact at the rim and was able to spin in a layup. Her free throw made it 11-9.

Lia Wright started the second quarter with a strong straight-line drive for a lefty layup, but the biggest highlight in the period came from point guard Kam Nowlin.

The shifty junior was able to sail in for an offensive rebound, then weaved through all five defenders back to halfcourt to set up the offense. Instead of making pass, Nowlin sped to the goal, freezing a defender with an in-and-out dribble before scooping in a lefty layup to give her team a 20-17 advantage.

Vaughn added a 3-pointer late in the half off a double-drag screen, but Community took the momentum into halftime with a putback before the buzzer that gave the home team a 29-25 lead.

Community was able to hold Warren County in single digits in each of the final two quarters to pull away down the stretch.

“We’re going to keep playing hard and hoping everything will click offensively,” said Lippe. “We’re making good passes and finding teammates to get good shots.”

Warren County will be back on the court Saturday when it takes on Summit in the Hall of Champions event at Coffee County High School. Tip-off is set for 9 a.m.