Just when the Lady Pioneers looked destined to take control of the Central Tennessee Conference standings, a late dagger knocked them back.
The WCMS girls fell 45-43 in overtime at home Thursday to White County, which won at the buzzer in extra time.
“I thought my girls played hard and gave great effort,” said WCMS coach Tara Koran. “It was definitely a heartbreaker because we played with so much heart, but ran out of time.”
Sable Winfree did her best to push the Lady Pioneers over their longtime rivals, scoring a game-high 25 points. Winfree hit a big 3-pointer in overtime which tied the game with 6.6 seconds left
Following a timeout, Warren County came out trying to keep White County from going 94 feet for a basket. The Lady Pioneers wanted more time, but it didn’t pan out.
Bella Stiles’ lone basket for White County proved to be the biggest as she beat the buzzer to devastate the Lady Pioneers.
“We lightly pressed to avoid fouling and forced them to take a tough, unbalanced buzzer beater. Unfortunately, it banked in,” said Koran.
It was just the fourth loss this season for the Lady Pioneers, who fell to 8-4 after Thursday’s game. It was also the second time White County had clipped Warren County in a close game.
Koran, who has been with the Lady Pioneers three years, has been slowly building her team in hopes of taking the top spot in the CTC. She knows it will take knocking off White County, a program that has become a measuring stick for the Lady Pioneers.
“We are still stressing the importance of blocking out and giving our opponents one opportunity per possession. White County has big kids who rebound well. You can’t give teams like that second and third opportunities,” said Koran. “They’re a strong program. We lost to them by four last time and this time by two. We are closing the gap and hope to meet them again in the CTC tournament.”
If Warren County takes care of business in its last five CTC games, the team could secure the No. 2 seed. It’s a spot Koran would like to have.
“We’re second place right now in the CTC. Regardless of this outcome, I was very proud of my girls and pretty excited to be in second place – a spot WCMS hasn’t seen in years,” said Koran.
Paige Sweeton finished with seven points for the Lady Pioneers, followed by Lex Vege with five, Hailey Simpson with four and Bella Pennington with two.
Warren County is set to return to the court Monday at Tullahoma West. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.