With their backs against the wall, the Lady Pioneers pushed all-in Thursday in Cookeville against White County. It was the first round of the 6-AAA District Tournament in Cookeville and a loss meant elimination.
The Warriorettes swept the Lady Pioneers during the regular season and had just enough to beat Warren County a third time and bounce the Lady Pioneers from the tournament.
Warren County controlled the first quarter and claimed the early lead. However, White County would storm back and win 56-49.
The loss ends the Lady Pioneers season with a 10-22 record. It marked the final game in a Warren County uniform for four seniors – Saydee Winfree, Marlee Smith, Allison Hitchcock and Kristen Rowland.
Deandra Luna for White County led all scorers with a game-high 21 points. Luna was held to a meager two points in the first quarter. She let it fly in the second quarter and knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.
Hitchcock led the Lady Pioneers with 14 points. Known for her long-range accuracy, Thursday night all of her points were made from inside the arch.
The Lady Pioneers controlled the pace in the first quarter and were much more aggressive on both ends of the floor. They pushed the tempo and the Warriorettes were late reacting and the Lady Pioneers took a 17-12 lead out of the gate. The Warren County defense did not give up much in the first quarter.
In took the Warriorettes just over a minute in the second quarter to claim the lead. White County was the more aggressive team in the second quarter. Their pressure defense forced the Lady Pioneers into bad decisions with the ball and turnovers.
Luna cut through the lane and she took a hard foul inside the paint and was sent to the free-throw line. She hit 1-of-2 and White County led 22-17 and the Lady Pioneers were stunned.
The Lady Pioneers kept their cool and Elsa Eckenrod passed the ball inside to Marlee Smith. She made a quick move around the defender and was fouled as her shot went into the air. She made a trip the free-throw line and hit 1-of-2. Warren County trailed 22-18.
White County made a run late in the second quarter and deliver a knockout. Luna stepped back behind the arch and fired as White County led 25-18.
On the very next possession Warren County passed the ball and it was stolen by Luna. She raced back the other way and hit an uncontested layup for a 27-18 lead with 2:17 left in the half.
Eckenrod had a hot hand in the first and she pulled the trigger on a deep 3-pointer. She hit her target and the Lady Pioners trailed 27-21.
It was a 29-24 White County lead at the half.
The Lady Pioneers returned to the floor and started the third quarter with more vigor than in the second. Kristen Rowland made a quick move and beat her defender off the dribble. She drove the middle of the lane and hit a short runner over the defense. Warren County trailed 35-30.
It was more Warriorette offense and more Lady Pioneer turnovers in the third. White County survived the run by Warren County halfway through the period and extended its lead to 41-33 by the end of the third.
The Lady Pioneers made a late run in the fourth and with just over two minutes to play, Megan Patch buried a 3-pointer and cut the lead to 49-44. WCHS head coach Shea Panter called timeout.
Out of the timeout Luna drove the lane and hit as White County led 51-44.
Saydee Winfree responded when she got free in the corner and connected from behind the arch, 51-47.
Luna was not going down without a fight as she hit from close range and White County led 53-47 with :45 to play.
Hitchcock responded with a quick shot from just outside the paint and the Lady Pioneers trailed 53-49. It was the last shot from the floor by Warren County.
The defense was forced to foul as time ticked off the clock.
White County hit three more free throws down the stretch and went on to defeat Warren County by a final score of 56-49.
WARRIORETTE SCORING – Deandra Luna 21, Hannah Leftwich 13, Logan Quillen 8, Kayleigh Bray 7, Kristen Brown 3, Brooke Stoglin 2, Madison Gardenhire 2
LADY PIONEER SCORING – Allison Hitchcock 14, Elsa Eckenrod 12, Kristen Rowland 10, Saydee Winfree 5, Marlee Smith 4, Megan Patch 3, Rylan Moore 1.