In the era of hot takes, let me knock my readers over with a feather on this bit of breaking news: the Lady Pioneers are really, really good at basketball. I know that’s not even remotely controversial, but I still wanted to let people know.
Maybe the timing of this Earth-shattering revelation would’ve been better when the Lady Pioneers were riding a nine-game winning streak last week instead of now after the squad lost two games, but I think the last two contests showed their greatness more than the piles of victories did. While facing off against two top-5 teams in the state (Coffee County is No. 2 and Cookeville is No. 5), Warren County showed that its lofty preseason ranking wasn’t a fluke. They showed, without a doubt, that they’re able to compete with the best teams in the state until the final whistle.
Consider this: Cookeville was coming off a win over Blackman (another top-five team) when Warren County made its road trip Saturday. Most would’ve expected the Lady Cavs to roll in a gym that has been a house of horrors for the Lady Pioneers for decades, but Warren County was down 33-32 at halftime and battled to the bitter end.
Three nights later, Warren County led Coffee County, which has only lost to Blackman and owns a 25-1 record, at halftime 19-13. The Lady Pioneers missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer that could’ve sent the game to overtime in Manchester too.
What impressed me about the close calls was Warren County’s ability to compete in two completely different ways. Against the Lady Cavs, the Lady Pioneers had to run-and-gun to keep pace with Cookeville’s unreal outside shooting (seriously, Jordan Gillies and Cassie Gallagher are assassins from deep). When facing Coffee County and its great center Chloe Gannon, Warren County packed it in, fought like crazy and willed its way into a close matchup.
The greatness of the Lady Pioneers is a testament to their core group of battle-tested vets. Coach Matt Turner talked about his ‘Dirty 30’ when the football team took the state by storm in 2020, but now Anthony Lippe has a ‘Sensational 6’ with Shelby Smartt, Kyra Perkins, Sable Winfree, Savannah Winfree, Mia Hobbs and Brienne Kelsey.
They’re absolute warriors who create rare synergy as the whole become greater than the sum of its parts. They know their roles, play them to perfection and always pick each other up.
If you haven’t seen this group shine together in person yet, change that soon. These girls won’t be together much longer (five of the team’s top players are seniors), but there’s a good chance they will do something special before they put on their Lady Pioneer jerseys for a final time.