Warren County High School girls basketball coach Erick Baird does everything for the Lady Pioneer program. Baird coaches, holds fundraisers, does laundry and even drives the bus to away games. So it was strange to hear Anthony Lippe's voice ringing across Morrison Elementary School gym during the Lady Pioneers' game against Grundy County.
Coach Baird was forced to miss the game while dealing with administration issues during the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament Friday. Baird handed over the clipboard to assistant coach Lippe, who led the Lady Pioneers to a 53-42 victory over the Grundy County Lady Jackets in his coaching debut.
Friday was an odd day for the Lady Pioneers, who won both their games in the consolation bracket of the Sun Drop Romp tournament.
Warren County (9-7) used most of its junior varsity players in the morning to defeat Gabriel Christian 46-3, but the varsity players were back in the lineup against Grundy County. Coach Baird wasn't on the sidelines though, missing his first game during his four-year tenure with the team.
The Lady Pioneers didn't seem fazed without their leader to start the game though. Warren County raced out to 10-2 lead, getting 3-pointers from sophomore Bri Melton and junior Camerie Martin.
Sophomore Brittany Myers sank the team's third 3-pointer of the quarter just before the buzzer to give the Lady Pioneers a 13-6 advantage after eight minutes.
Grundy County began slicing the Lady Pioneer lead in the second quarter by taking advantage of foul trouble for Warren County. Posts Rachel Nokes, Megan Dishman and Jessie Newby all had to spend time of the bench with two fouls, leaving freshman Marlee Smith to patrol the paint.
Smith gave the Lady Pioneers a huge boost on offense, scoring six points to keep Warren County ahead 23-18 at halftime.
The Lady Jackets kept charging when the second half started. A 6-0 run to start the third quarter gave Grundy County a brief lead, but Warren County was able to counter with 3-pointers from Martin and Melton.
Even with the long-range connections, the Lady Pioneers went into the final period tied with Grundy County at 33.
Myers and Melton led an offensive explosion the fourth quarter. Myers broke the tie with a three-point play to begin the final period, which put the Lady Pioneers ahead for good.
Melton followed with her third 3-pointer from the right corner, then Myers drilled a 3-pointer of her own as Warren County took a commanding lead.
Martin iced the game at the line, hitting six free throws in the final three minutes to score a season-high 14 points to lead the Lady Pioneers.
Myers and Melton added nine points apiece, followed by Smith with eight and Dishman with seven.
Warren County concluded play in the Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament yesterday with a game against Notre Dame. The score wasn’t available at press time.
Check Wednesday's Southern Standard for results from yesterday's game, along with news on the Lady Pioneers' upcoming contests in the Wildcat Classic Christmas tournament.