It didn’t matter to the Lady Pioneers if their shots weren’t falling. The Warren County girls knew a win was still attainable as long as Centertown was kept off the scoreboard.
The Lady Pioneers used a stifling defense to claim the 5-6 grade elementary championship Saturday, winning 31-10 on their home court over the Lady Warriors.
It was the cherry on top of a hugely successful season for the WCMS girls. The Lady Pioneers also won the preseason 5-6 grade tournament, then followed with an 8-0 regular season which earned the group a top seed in the tournament.
“We had a group of girls who worked hard and wasn’t content,” said coach Leanne Morrison. “I’m so proud of the effort they showed to get better each day. They deserve a lot of credit for striving to be the best they could be on a nightly basis.”
The championship game answered the great debate of what wins when a suffocating defense meets a splendid offense.
Warren County came into the game after allowing just three of its regular-season opponents to reach double figures, while Centertown boasted a balanced attack that saw five different girls lead the Lady Warriors in scoring during action this season.
It was the Lady Pioneers defense that turned the game.
Warren County put the clamps on Centertown from the outset, limiting the ability of the Lady Warriors to get open looks. The Lady Pioneers also benefitted from turning turnovers into quick points, with Sable Winfree and Bella Pennington each getting run-out layups off steals in the first half.
A slow-paced first quarter saw Warren County build an early 6-4 lead, with Hailey Simpson’s 3-pointer providing the difference. Centertown got two baskets from Abby Fann, though they proved to be the only points for the Lady Warriors before halftime.
The Lady Pioneers pulled away with an 11-0 run through the second quarter. Simpson splashed in her second 3-pointer right before halftime, giving the home team a 17-4 advantage going into the locker rooms.
Winfree, the tournament MVP, went to work in the third quarter. The Lady Pioneer point guard got a layup to go, then followed with a jumper. She also assisted on a layup to Pennington, helping Warren County keep a big lead.
Centertown finally ended an over 10-minute scoring drought on baskets from Fann and Emma Miller, but trailed 24-8 entering the fourth quarter. Fann got a late layup, but it proved to be the final points for the Lady Warriors.
Simpson helped polish off the victory with a pair of layups in the final period, giving her a game-high 10 points in the championship game. Winfree finished with eight, followed by Alexxia Verge with six. Pennington finished with five, while Sweeton scored two.
Following the game, Sweeton and Simpson were each named to the all-tournament team from the Lady Pioneers. Lady Warriors Kennedi Pegg and Krista Chisam were also named to the all-tournament team.
In the consolation game, Morrison downed Eastside 21-16 to finish third in the tournament.
The Lady Eagles were led by seven points from Jenna Newby. Miranda Medley and Lilly Cantrell finished with five points apiece, while Molly Smith scored four.
Bebe Brackley had a team-high six points for Eastside. Rounding out the scoring was Kelly Bush and Katie Carter with three points each and Macie Bush and Chloe Rogers with two points apiece. Smith, Cantrell, Brackley and Kelly Bush were all named to the all-tournament team as well. They were joined by Boyd guard Ava Jones.