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Pioneers begin season with win
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If Edgar Morales and Bryson Lewis keep up their scoring pace from their first game as high school basketball players, the Warren County High School boys freshman team could be in for a splendid season.
Morales scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Lewis added 19 points to help Warren County defeat Coffee County 56-47 on opening night at Charlie Dalton Gym.
It was the first game Morales and Lewis suited up in the same uniform after having dominant middle school careers. Morales, a star on three county championship teams at Dibrell, and Lewis, a former WCMS standout, led the Pioneers to victory in a game which looked like it was going to be a blowout early.
Warren County raced out to a huge lead in the first quarter over the Red Raiders. Morales had 11 first-quarter points, including beginning the game with a three-point play, as the Pioneers took a 16-4 lead into the second quarter.
Two quick baskets from Lewis gave Warren County a 20-4 advantage a minute into the second quarter. Coach Tyler Hillis, who is in his first year with the freshman team, used the big lead to rest his starters and bring in bench players.
The move didn’t work out well for Warren County. The Red Raiders stormed back into the game, scoring 14 straight points to close within two.
Coach Hillis was forced to use a time-out and reinsert his starters for the final two minutes of the first half. Lewis was able to get the Pioneers back on track with two layups in the final minute as Warren County led 26-22 going into the break.
Malik Ladet got Warren County off to a fast start in the second half by draining an open jumper from the top of the key to begin the third quarter before turning the offense back over to Lewis and Morales.
Lewis had a spectacular play midway through the third which gave the Pioneers a nice cushion. Lewis caught a pass on the left wing and proceeded to cut through the lane toward the basket. The shooting guard was able to squeeze by four defenders to get to the rim for a layup. Lewis was fouled on the play and connected on a free throw to make it 35-24.
Coffee County cut the Pioneer lead to four at 35-31 with 90 seconds left to play in the third, but Warren County put together a 6-0 run to finish the quarter.
Morales started it with a turnaround jumper in the lane. Morales would add another basket 20 seconds later, then the Pioneers quickly jumped into their full-court press. It resulted in Coffee County throwing an errant pass to Lewis under the basket for a layup right before the buzzer as Warren County went into the final quarter leading 41-31.
Brock Majors took over the fourth quarter for Warren County. With Coffee County threatening to make it a game after two straight 3-pointers cut the lead to four, Majors came up with the shot of the game for the Pioneers.
With 4:38 remaining and Warren County needing to turn the tide, Majors got wide open in the right corner and drilled a 3-pointer to push the lead back to seven.
Coffee County never was able to get the game back to one possession as Majors, Lewis and Ladet combined to hit six free throws down the stretch.
Majors finished with eight points for the Pioneers as the third scorer behind Morales’ and Lewis’ big games.
The Pioneers return to action tomorrow night when the team plays host to White County. Action will begin with a girls game at 6 p.m. The boys are scheduled to take the court at 7:30 p.m.