Warren County High School girls basketball players have been road warriors all season, but a 1,000-mile trip to Florida may have caught up with the Lady Pioneers.
After starting the season 6-0 away from Charlie Dalton Gym, the Lady Pioneers lost two of their three games in the Rock Holiday Classic held in Orlando, Fla.
Warren County (10-6) was defeated by Boynton Beach 54-41 on Wednesday and fell to Mandarin 43-39 in overtime on Thursday.
The Lady Pioneers were able to end their visit to the Sunshine State on a high note as the team defeated First Academy 50-36 on Friday morning.
Playing three teams from Florida proved to be a challenge, but Lady Pioneer coach Erick Baird is hopeful the experience will pay off once the team enters District 6-AAA play.
“We held leads in each game, but had a little trouble closing out games,” said Baird. “We’ve narrowed down the things we need to work on before district play begins.”
The Lady Pioneers played a good first half against the Boynton Beach Lady Tigers, but the Florida squad featuring three players who have signed letters of intent to play college basketball next season ran away in the second half.
Warren County led 23-21 at halftime, but were outscored 20-8 in third quarter to enter the fourth trailing 41-31.
Megan Dishman had a three-point play at the beginning the final period to cut the lead to seven, but the Lady Tigers answered back with a 8-0 run to effectively end the game.
Senior Lauren Wilkinson led the Lady Pioneers in scoring with 13 points. Dishman was next in line with 12.
It was the beginning of a banner week for Wilkinson. Over course of three games in Florida, Wilkinson averaged 23 points per game.
Wilkinson nearly single-handily powered the Lady Pioneers to victory on Thursday against the Mandarin Lady Mustangs.
Wilkinson scored 26 of her team’s 39 points, but Warren County let the game slip away. Mandarin tied the game late in regulation, then pulled away in overtime as the Lady Pioneers struggled with turnovers and missed several short shots.
Wilkinson wasn’t going to let Warren County leave Florida without a victory though. The star senior had her best performance of the season on Friday despite fighting a stomach virus and a sprained ankle early in the game.
Wilkinson scored a season-high 30 points as Warren County defeated First Academy by 14. For the season, Wilkinson has scored in double figures in 14 of 17 games and has scored 20 or more points 10 times.
Coach Baird won’t have long to prepare his team for District 6-AAA play. The Lady Pioneers get back to action on Tuesday with a road game against Cannon County, then will travel to Coffee County on Friday.
The Lady Pioneers faced Cannon County once this season in the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament and were defeated 44-35. Tuesday’s game will be one of two against the Lady Lions in January for Warren County.
Friday’s game in Manchester will be the start of district play. Warren County faced Coffee County in the District 6-AAA tournament championship game last season.
Both games this week are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.