East’s defense leads to win over Barren County
Warren East was able to come out on top on Tuesday night.
After suffering a pair of tough losses to Russellville and Warren Central their last two times out, the Raiders (10-6 overall, 6-4 Region 4) played hard from start to finish and were able to record a big 58-52 win over Barren County at Raider Gym to snap that skid.
“Defensively, we’ve done really well holding our last two opponents to 50 points, being Warren Central and Barren County,” Warren East coach Brandon Combs said. “We had dropped two in a row and we needed a win – and Barren County did, too. I thought that we executed and played really hard in the second half. We kept the lead, we expanded on it and made our free throws late.
“(Those are) things we weren’t doing early in the year. We’ve grown up a little bit.”
East, which hosted a tough Barren County club that featured sharpshooter Jared Coomer, knew it would be a challenge trying to limit the senior guard. Thanks to the Raiders’ defensive intensity, Coomer was held to just 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting from the field and could never get into a rhythm.
Along with slowing him down, Warren East forced the Trojans (8-8, 4-3) to shoot 12-of-34 from the floor (34 percent) while outrebounding them 64-52.
“We’re close – and the good thing about this bunch is that we’ve taken the motto ‘new day, new game,’” Combs said. “We’re not even gonna mention tonight’s game tomorrow. Our focus is shifting completely to Greenwood and this bunch has bought into that. We’ve just gotta keep working.”
Tashawn Neal led Warren East with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Treante Patterson scored 14. The Raiders shot an impressive 50 percent from the field on the evening to make for a pretty solid night offensively.
The two sides exchanged scores all throughout the first quarter.
Barren County jumped out to a quick 4-0 start, but Warren East then scored four straight to tie it. The Trojans then took another four-point lead before the Raiders rallied back again and tied the game at 11-all after one period of action.
After Barren took a 17-13 lead early into the second, East responded with a pull-up jumper by Brevon Whitney and a score inside by Patterson to tie things up. At the 3:26 mark of the quarter, the Trojans held a slim 22-20 advantage – but just before Neal went on an 8-0 run of his own to put the Raiders up 25-22.
Behind 10 first half points from Neal, Warren East took a 27-24 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Raiders shot 44 percent from the field in the half, while Barren County shot 10-of-30 (33 percent). Will Bandy had seven points at the break to lead the Trojans.
The Raiders’ intensity continued in the ensuing half.
“We knew they liked to fight, so when we came out we had to play our ball with our pace and continue to do what we did in the first half but pick it up a little bit,” Neal said.
East opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run to take an eight-point lead of 32-24 at the 5:54 mark. The Raiders’ advantage then moved to double digits at 39-28 after Sam Perdue converted an and-one with 1:25 left in the period.
By outscoring Barren County 14-6 in the third, Warren East led 41-30 entering the fourth.
“We’re in a good spot,” said Neal. “Not too far down in region. It should be better, but we lost a couple of close games at the beginning of the season. But we fought back and we’re playing our ball.”
Trailing 45-32, the Trojans cut their deficit to within single digits at 45-36 with 4:23 remaining. However, the Raiders re-took a double-digit lead after Neal scored five straight points to make it 52-40 with 2:11 left.
The Trojans made a late comeback, but Warren East was able to knock down clutch free throws to seal a marquee victory.
“We’re doing the things we need to do as a team to win right now,” said Combs.”