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Prepping for senior night
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Tyra Wright is one of six Lady Pioneer seniors who will be honored at Friday's night home game. Warren County is hoping to snap its district skid against White County. - photo by Jeffery Simmons
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Pioneers had their share of struggles at Cookeville Tuesday. Warren County lost 80-55. Lacedrick Cox, left, and Dante Elam are pictured trapping a Cavalier guard. - photo by James Clark

Eleven Warren County High School basketball players will play for the final time at Charlie Dalton Gym Friday night.

Six Lady Pioneer seniors, along with four departing Pioneers and a graduating early junior, will try to close out their careers with wins over White County. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m., with senior night festivities set to occur between the girls and boys games.

The Lady Pioneers will give a final send off to Tyra Wright, Emily Mikkola, Megan Patch, Caylie Sherrell, Grace Rains and Bri Young. All starters at some point in their career, the group came into the season hoping to take District 6AAA by storm. The season hasn’t gone the way the Lady Pioneers would like – they’re still searching for their first district win – but a big win Friday would be a huge swing.

Warren County is coming off a 46-37 loss Tuesday night at Cookeville, the team’s sixth straight loss. Coach Shea Panter applauded her team’s effort, even though it came up short.

“We played hard. When we did make a mistake, they made us pay. They ultimately won the game because of it,” said Panter.

The game spoiled big nights from Wright and Rains, who scored 15 and 11 points, respectively.

Those two, along with their four classmates, will be hard to say goodbye to for Panter.

“Senior night will be bittersweet,” said Panter. “For most of these kids, I have coached them since middle school. It’s sad that our time has ended. They are a really great group of young ladies – they work hard in the classroom and play multiple sports."

“They are great examples of leaders in our community and I’ll miss them. I look forward to seeing them come back and support the program they helped build and hopefully I will get a hug and smile.”

Wright and Mikkola have already made their pledges to continue their athletic careers. Wright has signed with Charleston Southern, while Mikkola will be heading to Tennessee Wesleyan, albeit to play softball.

For the Pioneers, it will be the final home appearances for Sloan Seymour, Ethan Smith, Raven Lewandowski, Ben Clark and Brad Caten. Caten joined the group in the last few weeks when he decided to graduate early.

Coach Chris Sullens is hopeful his team will move on from Tuesday’s 80-55 loss and focus on Friday. It’s a chance for the seniors to add to an already impressive list of accomplishments.

“We are proud of each of our seniors,” said Sullens. “They all have a special story to tell about their time in our program and when they leave this program, they will leave with the most wins of any group for a four-year period in this decade. 

They’ve also experienced three straight region berths, a freshman district championship in their first year and many other positive memories.”

But Sullens doesn’t want his seniors checking out too soon. Already owners of three wins over Rhea County – its opponent in next week’s District 6AAA play-in game – Warren County has a chance to book a region berth for the fourth straight year.

“We want them to know we have a lot of basketball to be played this year,” said Sullens. “Their journey isn’t over. We want them to finish in a manner that they can be proud of as a group.”