If it wasn’t evident before the game Tuesday at DeKalb County, it was apparent when Warren County took the court that the Tigers and Pioneers do not like each other.
In a contest where tempers flared, technicals were handed out and fouls piled up on both teams, DeKalb County was able to survive and win 60-55 against the Pioneers.
Warren County (2-3) was greeted to a banner that said, “Pummel the Pioneers,” when the team walked into the gym Tuesday night.
The Tigers looked like they would take the words to heart as the home team took a 30-19 lead in the first half, but the Pioneers battled back behind their bench.
Trying to find a way to go into the locker room with momentum, coach Malcolm Montgomery inserted sophomore Malik Ladet and the moved paid off.
Ladet scored seven straight points to fuel a 9-0 run to get the Pioneers within two. The sophomore shooting guard hit a jumper, a 3-pointer and a layup to cut the Tiger lead to 30-28.
A late 3-pointer by sophomore Ryan Jennings brought Warren County within one with 20.1 seconds left in the half, but DeKalb County sank a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to go into halftime leading 35-31.
The Tigers started to increase their lead when the second half began, but junior Lee Carden became a one-man wrecking crew to bring the Pioneers back.
Carden scored the Pioneers’ first nine points in the second half, including sinking a 3-pointer with 3:51 to play that ignited 10-0 run.
Carden’s scrappiness around the rim got him two layups, while also frustrating the DeKalb County players.
Fighting for position almost turned into an actual fight when Carden got tangled up with Braxton Atnip, which led to both players receiving technical fouls.
Warren County bounced right back after the fouls. Tucker Smith tied the game with a layup when play resumed, then D’Andre League connected on a three-point play as the Pioneers took their first lead at 45-42.
Ethan Roller protested his foul against League, which led to another technical foul and two free throws by Kendall Rutledge.
Leading 47-42, Warren County had a chance to pull the upset, but the Tigers clawed back in the final period.
DeKalb County began the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 51-49 lead, only to see Carden tie the game once again with two free throws.
Smith tied the game one final time with 3:26 to play with a layup over the outstretched hands of Tiger center Sonni Young, but DeKalb County controlled the final three minutes.
Stephen Howell hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:09 to play, then Zach Vincent snapped a two-minute scoreless streak with a dagger 3-pointer with 1:05 to play.
Smith scored on a layup late, but it wasn’t enough as Warren County lost for the third time in four games.
Carden led the Pioneers with 13 points, followed by Smith with 12.
Warren County will be back in action today as the team competes in the Mitch Wilson Classic held in Cannon County.