The Warren County Pioneers are on the verge of ending their season at 5-5 in District 6-AAA with just one more win. That’s a tremendous accomplishment over last year’s Pioneer team which went 0-10 in the district. At media day held in Cookeville before the season started, the Pioneers were picked to finish last again.
Pioneer head coach Chris Sullens said, “Once our players realized as a team we could compete in our district, we had a different mindset and I’m very proud of our progress.”
The 5-5 record is provided the Pioneers can pull off a win tonight over the 1-7 Panthers from Stone Memorial. The Pioneers defeated the Panthers at Charlie Dalton Gym on Jan. 19 by a score of 63-49.
Stone Memorial would love nothing more than to knock off the Pioneers in their final district game of the season. The Panthers have lost their last 14 games as you have to go all the way back to Dec. 21 to find Stone Memorial’s last win. The Panthers defeated the South Greene Rebels at the Heritage Lids Tournament held in Maryville.
The only district win for Stone Memorial was Dec. 11 versus Rhea County. The Panthers did come close against Cumberland County on Feb. 5. The Jets held off the Panther attack and edged them out, 57-53.
Last year, Warren County ended its season with a 10-game losing streak that included eight district games.
Coach Sullens added, “This would be the first time in 12 years a Pioneer basketball team has finished .500 in the district. This group of young men has come a long way in a short amount of time and we are very pleased.”
The White County Warriors boast a 9-0 district record and have hopes of finishing with a perfect 10-0 district record. The outside shooting from the Warriors makes them tough to defend. Warren County did not have much success in Sparta versus the 3-point shot, not to mention countless other teams.
The Cumberland County Jets are currently the No. 2 team in the district at 6-3. They escaped the Pioneers grasp on both occasions by a combined total of five points in the two losses. A two-point loss at home in early December stunned Warren County and then a three-point loss in another nail-biter in Crossville was another hard pill to swallow for Warren County.
The only other team over the Pioneers in the district are the Cookeville Cavaliers at 5-3. The Cavaliers dismantled the Pioneers in Cookeville after a somewhat close first quarter. Warren County sought revenge over the Cavaliers at home.
In front of a packed Charlie Dalton Gym, the Pioneers returned the favor and defeated Cookeville in perhaps one of the most highly anticipated games of the year for Warren County.
The win over Cookeville ended a drought that dated back to 2005. Keys to the Pioneers success, according to coach Sullens, is having patience on offense and limiting turnovers. On defense, the Pioneers have rebounded the ball well as of late and have kept teams under 55 points.
Sullens said, “It doesn’t mean anything to me individually. It means our program is making strides forward all because good young men are doing what we ask. This is a foundation for many years to come.”
The district tournament is scheduled for Feb. 17-23 in Cookeville. Warren County’s opponent is unclear at this point as district games remain on the schedule.