Warren County captured perhaps its biggest district win of the season Friday night when the Pioneers exacted revenge for an earlier loss and beat the Cookeville Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers dismantled the Pioneers in the first meeting in Cookeville, but the change in location to Charlie Dalton Gym was the luster Warren County needed. The Pioneers made a strong defensive stand in the final two minutes and defeated Cookeville, 54-48.
WCHS head coach Chris Sullens credited assistant coach Adam Wood with the defensive game plan. Coach Wood said, “We played man defense the entire game and during the last timeout we switched to a 1-3-1 defense and they were not ready for that. We stole the ball and scored on an uncontested layup. That play cemented the win for us. It was a great defensive team effort from everyone.”
Isaiah Grayson for Warren County led all scorers with a game-high 17 points. Grayson had five points through three quarters, but he opened up and took Warren County on a wild ride in the fourth. Grayson scored 12 of the Pioneers 14 points in the final period.
Warren County led 46-44 with 2:06 to play in the fourth.
The Cavaliers inbounded the ball and Jacob Wilberscheid slipped behind his defender and went back door to the basket. The help came too late and the shot dropped and the score was tied 46-46.
With the clock moving the Pioneers turned the ball over to Cookeville and another inside shot dropped and the Cavaliers lead by two, 48-46.
With just over a minute left, Warren County brought the ball up the floor and Grayson saw an opening and hit it. He split defenders and went up with his shot. The whistle blew and the shot fell and Grayson tied the game at 48-48. He stepped to the free-throw line and completed the and-1 as Warren County led 49-48 with 1:07 to play.
Timeout was called and it was then the decision was made to switch from man defense to the 1-3-1 zone. The Cavaliers inbounded the ball and were not ready for the change.
The first pass was knocked away by Grayson and it brought the fans to their feet. He collected the loose ball and raced down the floor. Grayson scored on an uncontested layup after the steal. The crowd erupted and the Pioneers led 51-48.
Cookeville inbounded and hurried the ball up the floor. A long 3-pointer was off and Holden Baker hauled in the rebound. He passed the ball over to Isaac Golden who was fouled when the trap came late.
Golden stepped to the free-throw line and took a deep breath. He knocked down both free throws and Warren County went up 53-48.
With less than :30 to play, the Cavaliers drove the ball in hard to the basket. Krojhn Calbert timed his jump perfectly and blocked the ball out of bounds under the basket. Cookeville called timeout with :22 to play.
Warren County made the switch back to man defense during the timeout. The Cavaliers inbounded under their own goal. The Pioneer defense smothered the Cookeville shooters. The Cavaliers failed to get a shot off and Grayson picked up the loose ball and was fouled.
Almost no one was sitting down in Charlie Dalton Gym as Grayson made his way to the other end of the floor for his free-throw attempts with :05 to play. Grayson hit the first and missed the second. Cookeville rebounded the ball and did not attempt a shot as time expired.
The crowd noise was deafening as the players celebrated. The Pioneers defeated the Cavaliers by a final score of 54-48 and improved to 3-4 in the district standings.
The fourth quarter was owned by Grayson who stepped up big down the stretch. The Pioneers gained momentum at the end of the third quarter when Chance Hobbs fired from just inside the 3-point line at the top of the key. The shot went straight through and Warren County led 40-35 after three.
It was Trevor Gaines and Calbert who took over in the third period for Warren County. The two big boys combined for 12 of the Pioneer 17 points. Calbert muscled up shot after shot against a very athletic Cavalier defense.
Coach Sullens added, “Congratulations to all our players, students, and Warren County fans. These guys work hard day in and day out. Every time they get knocked down, they get right back up. I’m proud of the progress we have made and we ask them to enjoy this win.”
PIONEER SCORING – Isaiah Grayson 17, Trevor Gaines 14, Krojhn Calbert 9, Isaac Golden 7, Holden Baker 5, Chance Hobbs 2
CAVALIER SCORING – Byric Savage 16, Jacob Wilberscheid 15, Trey Bunderant 8, Noah Hilliker 7, Aiden Gyst 2