Warren County Middle School faced its first real test against Tullahoma West on Thursday night. The Pioneers dominated their first two games of the regular season with huge wins over Tullahoma East and Franklin County South.
The Bobcats entered the game with their claws out and after four grueling and relentless quarters, the Bobcats left WCMS with a 50-37 win.
Ben Fulton of Tullahoma West led all scorers with 19 points. Fulton buried a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter and then in the fourth he shot 5-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Tullahoma West spent much of the second half at the free-throw line. The Bobcats attempted 22 free throws in the second half and connected on 10.
On the other end, WCMS went to the charity stripe only seven times. Carter Mansfield and Cristian Espinoza each hit a free throw in the second half.
WCMS played catch up for the first two quarters and was merely a couple of steps behind. Each time the Pioneers got close, the Bobcats had an answer until just before the half. Eli Jones dropped two huge bombs from beyond the 3-point line which ignited the Pioneer crowd.
WCMS tied the score in the closing seconds and the first half ended in a flurry of turnovers with a score of 24-24.
The Bobcats came out aggressive and went right to work on offense after several key Pioneer players picked up three fouls in the first half. Colton Tucker and Quinton Howard dialed up and connected from long distance from behind the arch. The pair of 3-point shots helped the Bobcats extend their lead by the end of the third.
Micah Webster helped WCMS keep it close but he had little to no help in the third. Webster cleaned up the glass and pounded the ball from underneath for six points. Espinoza connected on 1-of-2 free throws for the only other point of the quarter and WCMS trailed 36-31 after three.
In the fourth period it went from bad to worse for the Pioneers and the aggressive defense played in the second half came with a hefty price.
Espinoza was the first Pioneer to sit the bench after he was whistled for his fifth foul. He dominated the paint inside in the first quarter and posted six of his seven points in the first. Foul trouble kept him quiet the remainder of the game.
Shortly thereafter, Webster was called for his fifth and he watched as Tullahoma extended its lead. Webster controlled the inside game much of the second and third quarters.
Tullahoma West scored 14 points in the fourth. Chad Farless and Fulton combined on a pair of baskets in the closing minutes. The other 10 points were accumulated from the 22 free throws shot in the final period and Tullahoma West won it from the free-throw line, 50-37.
BOBCAT SCORING – Ben Fulton 19, Isaiah Prince 10, Quinton Howard 9, Colten Tucker 5, Chad Farless 5, Devon Shockley 2
PIONEER SCORING – Micah Webster 17, Eli Jones 9, Cristian Espinoza 7, Brady Gross 3, Carter Mansfield 1