The Warren County High School freshman basketball team needs a ladder.
The Pioneers keep on climbing.
After starting the season 1-1, the freshman boys have rattled off seven straight wins to stand 8-1. That includes a physical 47-46 victory Monday night in McMinnville over visiting Grundy County.
Joel Garcia hit the game-winning free throw with :10 left after Warren County managed to run 1:33 off the clock holding for the final shot.
After Garcia’s free throw, Grundy County advanced the ball to halfcourt and called timeout to set up an inbounds play with :03 left. The Yellow Jackets launched a 3-pointer, but it was off the mark and the Pioneers prevailed.
Ethan Smith led Warren County with a team-high 16, followed by Jamison Holt with nine.
Grundy County guard Johnnie Adtkins was quick off the dribble and finished with a game-high 18.
The game was played upstairs in the auxiliary gym due to floor resurfacing at Charlie Dalton Gym. The cramped quarters seemed to serve as a pressure cooker as the action was intense.
Warren County led for most of the game and was up 44-36 entering the final quarter. But that’s when the Pioneers started to lose their grip on momentum and Grundy County clawed its way back to tie the score at 46 with 1:43 remaining.
The Pioneers spread the floor to milk the clock and appeared like they might hold for the final shot. But with just under a minute to go, Warren County took a 15-foot jumper that was off the mark.
Fortunately, Crockett Walker was there to snatch the rebound for Warren County and kick the ball back out. Instead of extending their defense, the Yellow Jackets allowed the Pioneers to hold the ball at the top of the key with little resistance.
When Warren County started its offense, Garcia sliced his way to the rim and was hit with a pass in stride. His short bank shot was no good, but he fought for the rebound and was fouled on the putback with :10 left.
Garcia made both free throws, although the second one was called off for stepping over the line, which accounted for the final 47-46 margin.
Other Pioneer scorers were Walker with seven, Garcia with five, Sloan Seymour with four, and Isaiah Rutledge and Dillon Young with three points each.
The Pioneer freshman team is scheduled to play at Cumberland County on Friday before holding a one-day district tournament Saturday at WCHS.
Seeding for the district tournament won’t be known until after Friday’s game. The freshman team’s lone loss this season came on the road against White County, a game the Pioneers led in the fourth quarter.