Warren County High School boys basketball coach Malcolm Montgomery has one thing in mind as his team takes the court this season.
Montgomery and the Pioneers are looking to put the memories of last year’s loss in the District 6-AAA tournament behind them and focus on making the regionals for the third time in four years.
A loss to Coffee County in the district tournament play-in game broke a streak of two straight regional bids under coach Montgomery, but the Pioneers believe they can start a new streak this season.
To do it, Warren County will have to replace seven seniors who played significant minutes last year.
Losing all-district talents like Hunter Daniel and Jacob Reagan will take time to adjust and coach Montgomery doesn’t want to throw his young players in the fire just yet.
The Pioneers have used the first week of practice to work on fundamentals, often running numerous drills focusing on ball handling, shooting and defense.
With Warren County returning just three seniors - Nick Simmons, Tucker Smith and Kendall Rutledge - coach Montgomery wants to be patient as younger players develop and start to contribute to the team.
The Pioneers will have 10 more days of practice before preseason games begin Thursday, Nov. 15 with the Think Pink Hall of Fame tournament held at Charlie Dalton Gym.
Warren County will also play in the DeKalb County Hall of Fame games Saturday, Nov. 17 before starting the regular season Tuesday, Nov. 20 at DeKalb County.
The Pioneers are scheduled to play in three tournaments this season. Warren County will visit Cannon County for the Mitch Wilson Classic after Thanksgiving, along with playing in the Sun Drop Romp and Wildcat Classic Christmas tournaments. The Sun Drop Romp will be played in Warren County, while the Wildcat Classic is held in Hixson.
The District 6-AAA slate includes games against Coffee County, White County, Cumberland County and Cookeville. The Pioneers enter the season ranked No. 4 by the media and No. 5 in the preseason district coaches poll.
Along with facing the DeKalb County Tigers in a two-game series, Warren County will also play home-and-home matchups against Tullahoma, Franklin County and Cannon County.
The Pioneers will hold senior night Friday, Feb. 8 against the Cookeville Cavaliers. Other important home dates include the first home game Thursday, Nov. 27 against Franklin County and Whiteout Night against Cannon County Friday, Dec. 14.
Coach Montgomery kept his staff intact from last season as assistants Howard Pride, Isaiah Phillips and Tyler Hillis return to the Pioneer bench.