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Simmons Says - Tale of two teams on court

At this time last year, I was eagerly anticipating the WCHS basketball season. I was convinced the Lady Pioneers were going to take the next step as a program, with the chance to contend with the top teams in the district. On the other side, I was curioaus how far the Pioneers would fall after losing the main players responsible for a 23-win season.

Almost anybody who asked me about the programs would get the same answer, “show up early at Charlie Dalton Gym if you want to see wins.” I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Lady Pioneers struggled through a nine-win year and didn’t beat a single district opponent. On the other side, the Pioneers surprised many by winning 15 games - the first back-to-back seasons of above .500 play in two decades.

I bring this up to remind my readers that I may consider myself the “Warren County Sports Authority,” but it doesn’t mean every one of my predictions will come true.

With that, I’ll dive into what I think you’ll see on the hardwood at Charlie Dalton Gym this year:

Lady Pioneers 

win less than 5

This in no way is an indictment of new coach Anthony Lippe, who I firmly believe was the best man for the job when it came open in the spring. It’s just going to be a constant struggle for the Lady Pioneers this season.

There will be nights when Warren County struggles to get to 40 points. That’s not a recipe for success in a district which returns multiple 1,000-point scorers, all with the ability to get 20-25 points on their own against the Lady Pioneers.

WCHS boys top 20 wins

Loaded with his most athletic team since taking over, Chris Sullens should be able to win playing any style. The Pioneers can run-and-gun, play scrappy defense, shoot from distance and bang in the paint. 

When Warren County won 23 games two years ago, defenses knew what to expect. If you could limit Chance Hobbs from shooting outside or force Isaiah Grayson to finish over big bodies in the paint, there was a recipe to beat the Pioneers.

This year’s team won’t be nearly as predictable. Their malleable style should help the Pioneers pile up victories this year, though Sullens doesn’t seem to care about any wins until February.

Top scorers 

Last year, only one Pioneer scored more than 10 points per game – CJ Taylor at 15.6 points per night. There’s a good chance Warren County could have as many as four players average double figures this year, just like the team did in 2017-18.

Taylor will have competion for the role of top bucket getter. 

New PG Dee Spates is a blur, capable of getting enough easy buckets in transition to sustain his scoring.  Lacederick ‘Red’ Cox is evolving from a corner specialist into a well-rounded weapon, thanks in large part to the muscle he added playing football. 

With the attention Taylor, Cox and Spates will draw, expect big post Aiden Cummings to have big scoring nights as well.