With just under a minute left to play, down by 3 points, Warren County post K’Rojhn Calbert made the defensive play of the night by stealing a Stone Memorial pass and turning it into 2 points with a fast-break layup bringing the Pioneers to within 1 point of Stone Memorial, 47-46.
Starting an aggressive full-court press in hopes of forcing another turnover after the change of possession sent Panther Brett Newcome to the foul line for two. Newcome hit both widening the gap to a 3-point game, 49-46.
Now with only 28 seconds left in regulation, the Pioneers had the ball but the Stone defense played like a wall and Warren County had trouble penetrating. With 3 seconds on the clock, Pioneer Isaiah Grayson made a last-ditch effort drive to the basket hoping to make the points and draw a foul.
Neither happened and Stone won, 49-46, Tuesday night at WCHS.
“Once again I am pleased with way our guys competed,” said Warren County coach Chris Sullens. “I thought K’Rojhn played extremely well the last two ball games. We preach to our guys how it is simple small things at this time of year that will be the difference. We were 1-10 from the free-throw line. That is hard to overcome for any team.”
“We as coaches also have to do better job of teaching our guys about late-game situations and scenarios,” Sullens continued. “I thought we lost sight of what was needed on the last possession. We will prepare the next three days for our region game against Cleveland, which is a very good ball team.”
Calbert again led the scoring for Warren County with a game-high 22 points, repeating his tough inside-the-paint play where he shined against Cookeville Friday. Calbert also won boards on both ends of the court. With Calbert as an anchor inside, Warren County dominated the paint scoring 40 points there compared to Stone’s 16 points.
The Pioneers’ Achilles heel was lack of a consistent outside game. Warren County was held to one 3-pointer from Isaiah Grayson and the usual sharp shooter, Chance Hobbs, was denied any conversions only having two shots where had a chance at a long-distance basket.
Stone did better in both categories making 9-of-16 foul shots for 38 percent and converting 6-of-20 three-pointers for 18 points. Panther Tristan Norman was top scorer for Stone with 16 points.
Tied after three quarters, 31-31, both teams were fundamentally strong offensively as the game stayed within one or two possessions throughout. Defensively, Warren County had the toughest go guarding the outside shot as they doubled Stone 14-7 in second-chance points and points off turnovers 12-7.
Adding to Warren County’s total tally were Isaac Golden with 8 points, Isaiah Grayson and Caleb Newby both scored 5 points, Logan Wilson 4, and Sloan Seymour hit for 2 points.
Warren County’s first-round win over Rhea County qualifies the Pioneers for regional competition. The Pioneers will travel across timelines to Cleveland to face the Blue Raiders this Saturday, Feb. 25. Game time is 7 p.m. EST, or 6 p.m. CST.