Getting off to a hot start in the district boiled down to one player Tuesday. One team had Brett Newcombe, the other didn't. Stone Memorial was able to lean on its senior point guard to defeat Warren County 54-50 in the District 6AAA opener for both teams.
Newcombe scored a game-high 17 points, including six in the final 2:20 to lead the Panthers to victory. Newcombe also drew a huge charge with 27.4 seconds to go that broke the Pioneers.
Warren County (12-7) was forced to play from behind most of the game, even falling down 37-26 late in the third quarter. CJ Taylor, who matched Newcombe with 17 points, changed the game in an instant.
Taylor closed the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers, the last swishing through as the third-quarter buzzer blared. After Sloan Seymour connected on a 3-pointer to start the fourth, Taylor momentarily gave the Pioneers a 38-37 lead on a 3-pointer with 6:28 to play.
Stone Memorial regained the lead swiftly, getting a five-point swing with 4:25 left when the Pioneers blew an open layup and Hunter Wattenburger hit a 3-pointer on the other end. Wattenburger answered a Warren County layup with another 3 on the Panthers' next possession, giving his team a 45-40 advantage.
The Pioneers were trailing 45-42 when Newcombe took over.
The strong guard penetrated past the Pioneer defense with 2:20 to play, giving his team a five-point lead. After a Taylor free throw, Newcombe attacked once again. Warren County tried to stop Newcombe at the rim, but the Panther guard was able to finish through contact.
Newcombe's three-point play with 1:38 put his team ahead 50-43, but the Pioneers wouldn't go away.
Warren County trimmed the lead to 51-47 with 36.7 seconds left and was forced to foul. Kaleb McCoy missed the front end of a 1-and-1, giving the Pioneers an opening.
Taylor grabbed the rebound and immediately pushed. The sophomore flew straight to the rim, but Newcombe stepped in front of Taylor as he went up for a layup. Taylor's shot rolled in, but referees waved off the basket and whistled a charge.
CJ chargeCJ Taylor called for charge in final seconds of Stone Memorial loss.
Stone Memorial split a pair of free throws 10 seconds later to push its lead to 52-47.
Lacedrick Cox kept the door open for a comeback with a 3-pointer from the corner with 12.5 seconds to play, but Stone Memorial sealed the game with two late free throws.
Seymour finished with 11 points in the loss, while Smith scored 10 - his first game in double figures since November. Cox and Raven Lewandowski added six points apiece.
Warren County will try to bounce back on the road Thursday. The Pioneers are set to travel to Grundy County, with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.