Carter Simpson carried the Pioneers as far as he could, but Tullahoma West wasn’t going to let a one-man show win.
The Wildcats were able to put the clamps on the Warren County Middle School sixth-grade team in the fourth quarter to prevail 40-31 Thursday night.
Simpson scored a game-high 21 points, showing an excellent blend of slashing and shooting to keep Warren County in the game, but it wasn’t enough. The Wildcats surrounded Simpson in the fourth quarter, turning a slim 27-26 lead after three quarters into a runaway victory.
“I need to find some guys that can help us score the ball,” said WCMS coach Justin Adcock. “Carter has really carried us offensively and he’s been dealing with a knee injury.
“I look forward to the progress we make over the next couple of months. I know they will put the work in to become better ball players.”
Simpson spotted the Pioneers an early lead as Tullahoma couldn’t keep the lefty out of the paint. He set the tone off the opening tip, grabbing the ball and heading straight to the basket for a layup. He continued the onslaught in the first quarter, including finishing through four defenders as Warren County built an 11-8 lead.
Warren County turned its focus to the perimeter in the second quarter, getting 3-pointers from Simpson and Markel Locke to hold a 19-18 lead at halftime.
Despite being constantly swarmed by defenders, Simpson kept the Pioneers afloat after halftime. Simpson scored 10 points in the second half, including all seven of his team’s points in the third quarter. He also hit the team’s lone shot from the field in the fourth quarter – a 3-pointer from the top of the key to keep the Pioneers alive.
Tullahoma was able to pull away late though, with Hudson Stroop’s pull-up, 3-pointer from the right wing serving as the dagger with two minutes to play.
“I thought we played much better from game one to game two,” said Adcock, who saw his team fall 29-20 at Coffee County in the season opener. “The effort was much better. I think the competition we are playing is really opening these young men’s eyes and they are going to have to continue to get better to be able to compete with the best players from the surrounding counties.”
Locke finished with four points for the Pioneers, while Hector Marquez, Ayden Odineal and Dawson Crouch added two points each.