When the Warren County High School basketball team topped Tullahoma 54-34 Nov. 30 on the road, Wildcat guard Marquel Hickerson could only watch his team play. Hickerson made his presence felt against the Pioneers Tuesday night.
Hickerson scored 25 points, including putting an exclamation point on his performance with an empathic dunk in the final seconds, to lead the Wildcats to a 61-47 win over the Pioneers at Charlie Dalton Gym.
Warren County came into the game having won four of its last five games, but the team had no answer for the Wildcat point guard.
Hickerson scored 18 points in the second half, highlighted by a dunk in the final seconds that even drew some cheers from the hometown fans.
With the game already in hand late, Warren County tried to push the ball upcourt for a last-second shot.
Hickerson jumped the passing lane and stole the ball with open court in his sights. Tucker Smith, who had already seen Hickerson break away for two dunks, wanted to prevent a third.
Smith and Hickerson arrived around the rim at the same time, but Hickerson elevated just a little higher to throw down a thunderous dunk that brought Tullahoma fans to their feet and got the approval of the Pioneer faithful.
It was just one of many ways Hickerson influenced the outcome of Tuesday’s tussle.
It seemed every time the Pioneers had a chance to make a run, Hickerson was waiting to throw a wrench in Warren County’s plans.
Senior Nick Simmons started out hot, hitting three shots in the first quarter to help the Pioneers get an early lead, but Hickerson’s late 3-pointer tied the game at 14 going into the first break.
Tullahoma began to slowly build its lead in the second period, getting four points from its point guard along the way, but Kendall Rutledge sank a 3-pointer to bring Warren County closer before halftime. The Pioneers went to the locker rooms trailing 28-23.
Warren County mounted a rally in the second half behind Tucker Smith. The senior Pioneer post spent time swapping baskets with Hickerson in the third quarter, twice bringing Warren County within three.
Tullahoma led by five after Rutledge and Van Williams traded 3-pointers midway through the period, but it was Hickerson’s dagger shot right before the buzzer that broke the Pioneers’ spirit.
Hickerson drained a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key right before the quarter ended which gave Tullahoma a 44-36 lead entering the final quarter.
The Wildcats quickly pushed the advantage to double digits when action restarted and Warren County never challenged down the stretch.
Simmons sank his first 3-pointer of the season right before the final horn, giving him 13 points.
Smith finished with a team-high 15 points while Rutledge added 10.
The Pioneers got back on the court at Charlie Dalton Gym yesterday to play in the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament. Results were unavailable at press time.