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Pioneers tame Tigers
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The memories of the first meeting between the Warren County Middle School Pioneers and Irving College Tigers were barely gone before the two teams faced off again Monday night.
For the second time in five days, the Pioneers prevailed in a battle of the two best teams in the Warren County elementary boys league. Warren County scored five points in the final minute to beat the Tigers 24-19 at WCMS.
The Pioneers squeaked by the Tigers 39-36 last week, setting up a rematch and a must-win for Irving College to stay in the race for a regular season championship.
The Tigers were up to the task for 23 minutes, but the final minute belonged to Warren County.
Cole Estes, who had missed most of the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, drained a tiebreaking shot with 50.3 seconds left, Wesley Jennings added a jumper with 25 seconds to play and Estes finished off the run with a free throw with 6.1 seconds as the Pioneers celebrated their ninth straight victory.
Warren County got off to a fast start behind big first quarters from Jennings and Alex Steiner. Jennings scored five points in the first period while Steiner added two putbacks as the Pioneers took an 11-5 lead.
Neither offense could get going in the second quarter though. Irving College gave the Pioneers fits with its 2-3 zone while Warren County was able to keep the Tigers at bay with a full-court press.
The only points of the quarter came from Chance Hobbs as he sank four free throws to bring Irving College within two at 11-9 going into halftime.
Tyler Pomales knotted the score at 11 early in the third quarter with a jumper just inside the 3-point line, but Warren County quickly answered back with a layup from Steiner. A jumper from the left wing by Tyree Ladet moved the Pioneer lead to four midway through the third, but the Tigers closed the quarter with a layup from Jeffrey McCormick and a free throw from Lucas Patrick to make it a one-point game entering the final six minutes.
Hobbs started the fourth by driving to the basket and getting fouled. Irving College’s shooting guard split the free throws, tying the game at 15 with 5:19 to play.
Warren County’s chances of winning took a big hit a minute later when Estes collapsed to the court holding his ankle. Estes had to leave the game as Pioneer sixth man Sloan Seymour entered the game.
Seymour would make a big impact in Estes’ absence. After Jennings and Luke Martin traded baskets to keep the game tied, Seymour gave Warren County the lead with a finger roll off the left baseline with 3:21 left.
Irving College wouldn’t quit though. Hobbs tied the game when he hit an off-balanced jumper from the left wing with 2:06 remaining. It was the third time the game was tied in the fourth, but the Tigers could never get over the hump.
In the final minute, Estes returned to make the biggest shot of the game. Warren County had possession with the clock ticking under 60 seconds and the injured Pioneer found himself with an open look on the right baseline.
Estes hit nothing but net as his jumper put the Pioneers up 21-19 with 50.6 seconds to play.
Irving College had a chance to tie on their next possession, but an errant shot gave the ball back to Warren County. Instead of slowing the ball down and waiting for a foul, Jennings rushed up the court and pulled up for an uncontested jumper at the free-throw line.
Jennings’ shot swished the net and he ran to midcourt in celebration as Irving College retreated to the bench for a time-out.
Hobbs tried to cut the lead to one in the final 15 seconds, but his 3-pointer fell short and Estes went to the line late and clinched the game with a free throw.
Jennings finished with nine points as the Pioneers improved to 9-0. Steiner was next with six, followed by Estes with five. Seymour and Ladet added two points apiece.
Hobbs was the Tigers’ leading scorer with nine points. Martin, who scored 21 points last week against Warren County, was held to four points in the rematch. Patrick, Pomales and McCormick chipped in two points each as Irving College fell to 6-2.
In other elementary league action, Morrison improved to 5-3 with a 35-9 win over Centertown and Eastside beat the Boyd Broncos 40-25.
The Eagles were led to victory by Ethan Smith, who scored 15 points. Daniel Tidwell, Caleb Newby and Jacob Elam added four points each. Rounding out the scoring was Layne Murphy with three, Rylan Sliger and Timothy Maples with two apiece and Brayton Kelsey with one.
Nathan Wright led Centertown with three points. Clay Eckenrod and Brant Young added two points apiece. David Nicholas and Evan Stephens chipped in one point each. The Warriors fell to 1-8 with the loss.
The high-scoring duo of Jesse Jones and Noah Bost led the Bulldogs to their fifth win. Jones and Bost scored 12 points each for Eastside as the team improved to 5-5. Will Cantrell added six points, Dillon Young and Treyton Cole scored four points each and Logan Young chipped in two points.
Joshua Argo led Boyd with 12 points, followed by Heath Kuykendall with 10. Bryson Stiles had two points and Jamison Brock sank a free throw as Boyd fell to 0-9.