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Pioneers take second place in Sun Drop Romp
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Friday’s championship game of the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament was a District 6-AAA preview and Warren County knows now how much work is left to do before January.
The Cookeville Cavaliers crushed the Pioneers 66-44, sending Warren County to a second-place finish in the tournament the team played host to all week.
Warren County had a good run, beating Jackson County, Moore County and Cumberland County on its way to the finals.
Cookeville was too much for the Pioneers though, as the visiting Cavaliers shot the lights out early and never trailed in the championship game.
Warren County competed with the Cavaliers in the first quarter, even keeping the game within one possession for most of the quarter.
Hunter Daniel provided the first big shot for the Pioneers when he drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at seven. Jacob Reagan, who has been a big spark coming off the bench lately, came in to score on a pair of jumpers to keep Warren County close early.
The wheels began to fall off when the Pioneers lost track of Cookeville sniper Matt Case. Case drilled three straight 3-pointers to finish off the first quarter, the last of which forced coach Malcolm Montgomery to call a time-out while Case walked in front of the Warren County bench holding his follow through.
The Pioneers trailed 22-13 after the first period and a double-digit deficit soon followed. More three-point shooting by Case and the Cavaliers led to Warren County falling behind 37-20 entering halftime.
A prolonged offensive drought through the middle of the game ending up dooming the Pioneers. Warren County followed up a seven-point second quarter with an even more lackluster five-point third.
By the time Warren County started to get a rhythm in the fourth quarter, Cookeville had already built a 54-25 advantage.
The fourth quarter did provide one of the few highlights for the Pioneers.
Senior post Justin Ware, listed at 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, showed the quickness of a guard on a coast-to-coast layup.
Ware picked off a pass at the Cookeville free-throw line and saw nobody in front of him. The big post lumbered up the court with two Cookeville players giving chase.
When the first Cavalier caught up and tried to steal the ball, Ware went behind his back and coasted in for a finger roll. The play sent the Warren County bench into a frenzy, but the celebration was short lived.
Cookeville seemed to take exception with the Pioneer celebration while being down 22 points.
The Cavaliers stuck with their starters for a few extra minutes and put an exclamation point on the game by going on a 10-0 run.
The Pioneers cut the deficit back to 22 after junior Kendall Rutledge nailed two long jumpers down the stretch, but Warren County was left waiting for the Jan. 24 rematch with the Cavaliers.
Ware led the Pioneers with nine points. Reagan was next with seven.
Following the game, the Pioneers were given a plaque honoring their 3-1 record throughout the week and second-place finish.
Daniel and Reagan were also recognized for their solid week of play in the Sun Drop Romp. Both seniors were named to the all-tournament team.
Daniel finished the week with 30 points, most coming against Jackson County when the senior forward scored 17 points in a three-point victory over the Blue Devils.
Reagan scored 37 points during the tournament, including pouring in 16 points against Cumberland County in the semifinals.
Warren County won the semifinal game over the Jets 60-53 on Thursday night.
In another District 6-AAA preview game, Reagan was captain clutch for Warren County as he went to the free-throw line down the stretch and hit 7-of-8 after the Jets tried to foul to lengthen the game.
McCorkle was second on the team with eight points and Daniel, Simmons and Rutledge added six points each.
Warren County will return to action on Tuesday when the team begins play in the Watertown Christmas tournament. The Pioneers finished second in the tournament last season and are currently scheduled to face Davidson Academy in the opening round beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday.