The one that got away is all that can be said about the Pioneers on Tuesday night against out-of-district opponent Wilson Central. The Pioneers started the game with an intense offensive assault matched by an equally aggressive defensive effort.
Wilson Central endured the brunt of the blows thrown by Warren County in the first half and in the second half the Wildcats returned the favor. Wilson Central stunned the Pioneer faithful and defeated the Pioneers at Charlie Dalton Gym, 66-58.
Pioneer head coach Chris Sullens said, “We played our best quarter of basketball this year in the first quarter, followed by three quarters of lethargic basketball.”
After Dez Mason from Wilson Central went scoreless in the first two quarters, he put on a clinic in the second half and finished with a game-high 20 points. He knocked down 10-of-12 from the free-throw line during the come-from-behind win.
Trevor Gaines was the top scorer for the Pioneers with 18.
The Wildcats clawed their way back into the game and locked the score 43-43 as the third quarter came to a close. The Wildcats picked up loose balls and were in the right place at the right time.
Just over a minute into the fourth period Wilson Central took its first lead on a free throw, 46-45. The lead was short lived on a made basket by Gaines and Warren County reclaimed the lead, 47-46.
Krojhn Calbert would extend the lead to 50-46 when he powered his way to the basket.
Lorenzo Wilson picked the Wildcats’ pocket at midcourt and raced back the other way. The uncontested shot did not fall and Wilson Central took back possession off the miss. The Wildcats took advantage of the missed shot and made the Pioneer defense pay. A shot from inside the paint dropped and Wilson Central was down two, 50-48, with 4:46 to play.
Warren County lost the handle on the ball in the second half and after a turnover late in the fourth, the Pioneers fouled out of frustration and Wilson Central went to the line. Mason knocked down a pair and tied the game at 50-50.
Gaines for Warren County tried to keep his team in the game and he responded inside as the game got physical. His shot off the backboard dropped and the Pioneers led 52-50. The Wildcats were not going away without a fight and immediately locked the score at 52-52.
Down the stretch with 3:38 to play, Isaac Golden got past the Wildcat defense and hit a floater in the paint and the Warren County led 54-52. But Wilson Central came right back.
Wildcat Gavin Johnson, who started the third quarter with back-to-back three-pointers, pulled the trigger on his third with 2:22 to play and hit. That gave Wilson Central a three-point lead, 57-54.
Warren County lost possession again and the Pioneers fouled. Wilson Central knocked down both free throws again and the Wildcats led 59-54.
The Wildcats found their way back to the free-throw line and hit 1-of-2 and took a 60-54 lead with :50 to play.
Wilson Central remained nearly perfect from the charity stripe and the Wildcats added four more points in the closing minute.
Caleb Newby and Christian Locke came off the bench and added four more points before time expired.
Coach Sullens said, “We didn’t get the job done and that is on me first and foremost and it is my responsibility to make sure that does not happen. We practice finishing ball games and we work on being successful.”
In the opening period, the Pioneers owned the Wildcats at both ends of the floor and dominated the glass. It seemed Warren County could do no wrong in the first quarter and the Pioneers opened with a 7-0 run before Wilson Central got on the board.
Grayson put the ball on the floor and exploded through the Wildcat defense and finished at the rim. Joelah Solomon and Lorenzo Wilson were left alone in the paint and the pair combined for four points.
A highlight of the first quarter was a pair of 3-point shots buried by Holden Baker and at the end of one quarter, Warren County led 23-6.
However, the Wildcats clawed their way back and cut the lead to 10 by the half, 32-22. By the end of the third, it was tied.
The Pioneers traveled to DeKalb County on Thursday with results not available at press time.
WILDCAT SCORING – Dez Mason 20, Gavin Johnson 18, Aaron Schock 10, Dawson Hamilton 10, Dennis Stallings 4, Eathan Robertson 2, Devon High 2
PIONEER SCORING – Trevor Gaines 18, Isaiah Grayson 8, Holden Baker 8, Lorenzo Wilson 8, Krojhn Calbert 6, Isaac Golden 2, Chance Hobbs 2, Caleb Newby 2, Joelah Solomon 2, Christian Locke 2