Watertown High School has been a home away from home for the Warren County High School boys basketball team the last two holiday seasons.
After finishing second in the Watertown Classic last December, the Pioneers opened up play this year by destroying Davidson Academy 55-32 in the opening round Tuesday.
Warren County (8-5) led wire-to-wire to advance to the semifinals, which will be played today at 5:30 p.m. Though the Nashville-based school provided little resistance for the Pioneers, the game wasn’t a complete success.
Senior guard Jacob Reagan hurt his ankle in the closing minutes. Reagan, who was an all-tournament performer in the Sun Drop Romp and the team’s second leading scorer, missed most of the team’s preseason with an ankle injury. This injury wasn’t on the same leg and Reagan’s status is questionable for today’s game.
Warren County took a quick lead and never relinquished it. Senior Thomas Locke got the game started off with a 3-pointer and buckets from fellow seniors Mac Britton and Hunter Adams gave the Pioneers an early 7-4 lead.
Nick Simmons came in late in the quarter and scored back-to-back baskets as Warren County led 11-4 after eight minutes.
After sophomore Lee Carden began the second quarter with a layup, Locke gave the Pioneers their first double-digit lead by hitting a floater in the lane.
Simmons helped Warren County maintain a 10-point cushion by scoring four points in the second quarter, then the Pioneers started hitting from the outside as a counter when Davidson Academy started doubling down on Simmons in the post.
Mitchell McCorkle drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner to begin a 9-2 run for Warren County. Senior Hunter Daniel made up the other six points as he hit two 3-pointers in the span of 30 seconds.
The first came off a pass from Simmons out of the post and the second was when Daniel trailed on a fast break and got a perfect pass from McCorkle. Daniel’s second 3-pointer forced a Davidson Academy time-out as Warren County had built a 30-13 advantage.
Davidson Academy scored the final six points of the first half, including hitting a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left, to make it 30-19 going into halftime.
Warren County’s play was lackluster to begin the second half. Davidson Academy scored the first four points, making it a seven-point game.
Coach Malcolm Montgomery made a complete line-up change, taking all five of his starters out in favor of subs.
Reagan got the team back on the right foot by posting up and scoring, but Davidson Academy followed with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 32-26.
The 3-pointer was a wake-up call for Warren County as the team went on a 10-0 that spanned into the fourth quarter.
After Daniel was able to slice to the basket for a layup at the end of the third quarter to make it 37-26, Simmons started the fourth with a free-throw line jumper.
Adams then followed with a three-point play as the senior forward was able to get to the basket and making a layup while being fouled.
Davidson Academy followed with four straight points to make it 42-30, but the Pioneers finished the game on a 13-2 run.
McCorkle’s hoop and harm with 4:12 to play sealed the deal. McCorkle was able to push on a fast break and get straight to the basket. While in the act of shooting, McCorkle was fouled. The Pioneer point guard made the layup, then the ensuing free throw to make it 49-32.
Reagan was injured moments later on a layup. Reagan soared in the air to avoid two defenders, but landed awkwardly and stayed down. Reagan left the game and had an ice pack on his ankle when leaving the gym.
Kendall Rutledge wrapped up the victory with a late 3-pointer as the Pioneers won for the fourth time in five games.
Simmons scored a team-high 10 points as Warren County got baskets from 11 different players.
Today’s semifinal game will be played at 5:30 p.m. at Watertown High School. With a victory, the Pioneers would advance to the finals tomorrow night at 8 p.m.