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Winning streak ends
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Jacob Dodd photos Bunker Brock takes a shot at Upperman Friday. The Pioneers saw their six-game winning streak snapped by the Bees.

Streaks are always going to end, but WCHS coach Chris Sullens didn’t need long to figure out why his team’s six-game winning streak was snapped Friday.

After a lackluster 73-45 loss at Upperman, Sullens pointed the finger directly at himself.

“It was the worst performance I've ever seen out of a Warren County-coached team by this coaching staff,” said Sullens. “It's on us. We didn't do a good enough job coaching them.”

Warren County (14-3) hadn’t lost since Dec. 14 when it traveled to Tullahoma. The Wildcats, before Friday, were the only team to hang a loss on the Pioneers.

The Bees changed that, and snapped the Warren County winning streak, all at once.

Led by Alex Rush’s game-high 19 points, 15 coming in the fourth quarter, the Bees improved to 14-2. Upperman also avenged a 67-59 loss suffered Nov. 20 at Charlie Dalton Gym.

The Pioneers seemed off from the start. Coming in averaging over 70 points per game, Warren County scored just seven points in the first quarter. Sophomore Irving Espinoza drilled two 3-pointers in the period, a feat Donovan McAllister matched as the Bees took a 15-7 lead.

Warren County’s offensive woes continued in the second quarter. The Pioneers struggled to get the lid off the rim, while Upperman’s Collin Gore scored eight in the second to push the home team ahead 37-17 by halftime.

The Pioneers played their best in the third quarter, when a smothering defense held the Bees to just 10 points. Warren County countered with 3-pointers from Espinoza, Tyree Ladet and Isaiah Grayson, along with two strong takes by Sloan Seymour to the rim. The spurt helped Warren County slice the Upperman advantage to 47-36 by the start of the fourth quarter.

Rush made sure the Pioneers wouldn’t get any closer.

The freshman post set up shop in the Pioneer defensive interior, and got all the looks he needed to do damage. Warren County struggled to stop Rush in the paint, or when he extended his range away from the basket. With Rush catching fire, Upperman quickly silenced any notion of a comeback.

“They bested us in every phase of the game from the opening tip to the final horn,” said Sullens. “I'm concerned that it didn't bother us enough. We'll do a better job of coaching them.”

Warren County was led by Caleb Newby's 11 points. Ladet finished with 10, while Espinoza added nine.
The Pioneers will have to regroup quickly. Warren County begins District 6-AAA play Tuesday at Stone Memorial, one of eight games Sullens says, “will help decide the postseason fate of his squad.”

Warren County is set to tip off against the 8-8 Panthers at 7:30 p.m.