Just as the Pioneers looked poised to take the momentum in Monday’s home contest, disaster struck.
A foul and intentional foul off the ball led to Livingston Academy recording a rare seven-point possession, the turning point in the second half as the Wildcats rode the momentum to a 62-58 victory over Warren County.
“Those kind of swings are hard to overcome,” said Pioneer coach Chris Sullens. “We had it down to two points and then in an instant, it was a nine-point game. We continued to battle and got back into the game, we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Aside from getting the opening basket – a floater from Dee Spates to prompt a flood of toilet paper and a technical foul – Warren County found itself in catch-up mode most of the night. The Pioneers finally had gotten back to even at 38-38, only to see Matthew Sells hit two free throws to give Livingston Academy back the lead.
After a Kaden Rutledge miss that would have evened the score again, the wheels came off.
Sells, who scored 36 points, grabbed the board and took off. He stopped short of the rim, dishing to Eli Melton for a wide-open layup. Just as Melton’s shot was dropping through, Sells was leveled off the ball, prompting a technical foul.
Sells buried both freebies, part of a night where the junior would connect on 18-of-19 from the charity stripe. He followed by hitting a 3-pointer on the ensuing inbounds, giving Livingston Academy seven straight points in seven seconds of game play.
Warren County (10-7) cut the deficit down to four at one point in the fourth quarter, but never drew back even. Spates fueled the late rally, dishing a no-look pass to Lacedrick ‘Red’ Cox and finishing a tip-in to make it 54-50 with 2:30 left.
The Pioneers couldn’t stop fouling Sells though.
Sells sealed the victory by hitting six free throws in the final two minutes.
Cox finished with 15 points to lead Warren County, his highest output since scoring 16 points when the Pioneers beat Livingston Academy on the road in December. CJ Taylor finished with 13, followed by Spates with nine and Irving Espinoza with eight.
Warren County will be off until Tuesday, Jan. 14, when it will begin district play at White County.