Warren County stumbles in race for league title

Feb. 18, 2014 @ 11:47 PM

Bunn’s star player didn’t beat Warren County in the fourth quarter. Instead it was a combination of lackluster free throw shooting, giveaways and the play of the Wildcats’ Aaron Simmons and Jordan Lucas that cost the Eagles first place in the Northern Carolina Conference.

Warren County’s 46-40 loss on Tuesday kept Bunn (18-3, 10-1) on top of the league standings. The Eagles (16-6, 9-3) won the previous meeting against the Wildcats, 53-51.

Bunn still has games with South Granville, Durham School of the Arts and Southern Vance this week and Warren County visits N.C. School of Science and Math on Thursday before closing the regular season at Southern Vance on Friday.

“I thought we played hard, just a couple of things didn’t go our way at the end,” said Warren County head coach Wanda Thompson. “We’ve got to regroup. We’ve got a couple more games this week. We’ve got to win those.”

Bunn’s prolific scorer Deshawn High had a game-high 18 points, but only two in the fourth quarter. T.J. Jones snagged a steal and hit High, who dunked it with two-hands on the fastbreak to put the Wildcats up 44-37 with 40 seconds to play.

Jones had just missed the front end of a 1-and-1 before forcing the turnover.

High was 2-of-11 from 3-point range and missed his only free throw attempt.

Warren County shot 5-of-14 from the foul line.

“We make our free throws, we win this game,” said Thompson, who added that the Eagles didn’t adapt quickly enough to Bunn’s switch to a 3-2 zone in the third. Bunn outscored Warren County 12-7 in that period.

With less than 4:30 to go in the game, the Eagles only trailed by three points.

Simmons and Lucas, each long and athletic, combined to score 11 of Bunn’s 13 points in the fourth quarter. Simmons finished with 10 and Lucas had eight.

Only five players scored for the Wildcats, which had a 16-game winning streak snapped by the Eagles in the Feb. 7 loss.

“I think their post players were a little more aggressive,” said Thompson. “They looked to shoot it a little more than they did when we played them there.”

Justin Fitts led Warren County with 10 points, adding five rebounds and six assists.

A.J. Alston had nine points and eight rebounds for the Eagles, who trailed by five points entering the fourth quarter.

Alston said Warren County is trying to stay upbeat despite needing some help to have a shot at a conference championship.

“It was kind of tough after this loss,” Alston said of the Eagles locker room. “But we’re going to pull through.”

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.