A Monday night showdown between Warren County Middle School and Coffee County Middle School in Manchester ended with a come-from-behind win for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers were down 18-17 at the half and with two quarters to play WCMS needed someone to emerge from the pack and lead a charge in the second half. Eli Jones was that player.
Jones blistered the Red Raider defense in the fourth quarter and the Pioneers defeated the Red Raiders, 39-33.
Jones exploded for 13 points and led all scorers with a game-high 18 points as his team battled back from the first-half deficit.
The Pioneers revved up their efforts on both ends of the floor in the second half after WCMS trailed at the half. Micah Webster was held to just two points in the first two quarter as he drew a constant double team in the post.
His teammates forced the ball inside in the third quarter and Webster made the most of it. He helped spark the Pioneer offense and scored six in the third.
WCMS struggled in the first half to find the range from outside. The ball was passed across court to an open Jones who took aim and fired. The shot hit its mark and it was Jones’ second 3-pointer.
The Red Raider offense came out flat-footed in the second half and it was Coffee County who had trouble finding its range. Larson Meltzer got inside the Pioneer defense and scored for Coffee County and by the end of the third WCMS led by three, 28-25.
WCMS rode a small wave of momentum into the final period and the Pioneers needed someone to step up. Jones was found open early in the period after the Pioneers broke through a full-court press applied by Coffee County.
Jones lined up his shot again and pulled the trigger and he knocked down his third long-range jumper. It was not his last when, just moments later, Jones was left alone again and the defense gave him just enough time for an open look and he connected on his fourth and final 3-pointer of the game.
Coffee County put a man on Jones from then on. He finished the fourth quarter from the free-throw line and shot a perfect 4-of-4 down the stretch as Jones scored 10 of the 11 points for WCMS in the fourth.
Carter Mansfield hit 1-of-2 free throws after he drew contact inside the Red Raider defense.
Points for Coffee County were very sporadic in the fourth and they relied on whomever could get the ball in the basket. Blanton Brown and Brandon Jernigan combined for a pair of baskets as the game wound down.
WCMS claimed the lead early in the second half and held on for a 39-33 win in Manchester.
In the first quarter, Coffee County and its Red Raider defense closed off the inside post play by the Pioneers. Multiple turnovers by WCMS allowed the Red Raiders to take a 13-8 lead by the end of the first.
WCMS was frustrated and continued to struggle from the floor. Dante Elam attacked the Red Raider defense and he went to the free-throw line and shot 3-of-4 in the second and Jones connected on his first 3-pointer.
The Pioneers climbed back within one point at the half, 18-17. WCMS settled into a rhythm and claimed the lead, then held on and defeated the Red Raiders, 39-33, in Manchester.
WCMS faced White County on Tuesday night with scores not available at press time.
PIONEER SCORING – Eli Jones 18, Carter Mansfield 8, Micah Webster 8, Dante Elam 3, Jerry Mrema 2
RED RAIDER SCORING – Brandon Jernigan 13, Larson Meltzer 7, Hayden Hullett 7, Blanton Brown 4, Jalen Morris 2