Something about seeing DeKalb County makes Dee Spates light up. The junior guard seems to take great delight in carving up the Tigers.
Spates was a one-man wrecking crew Monday night for the Pioneers, leading Warren County to a 63-42 victory over DeKalb County. It completed a season sweep of the Tigers, along with extending the team’s current winning streak to three games.
“Dee played the way he is capable of nightly. He controlled the pace and was just all over the place with quick feet and hands defensively,” said coach Chris Sullens. “He is improving each time he is on the floor and is starting to understand how he can control the game on both ends of the floor.”
Spates had just eight points, but his team-high five assists and four steals were all highlight-reel worthy. At one point in the second half, Spates had back-to-back strips at midcourt and was off to the races.
He went for a poster dunk the first time, only to be fouled at the rim. The next time, he took the easy layup – buckets which gave his team energy.
It was the kind of performance coaches imagined when Spates showed up as a transfer from Blackman last spring. Defense seems to be his favorite part of the game, ranking just ahead of finding teammates for easy buckets.
“You got to get into their hip and watch for the hesi (hesitation) move. Everybody is getting used to the the Allen Iverson crossover so you just time it. I started getting locked in,” said Spates of his defensive dominance.
It was the second time this season Spates has excelled against the Tigers. In the previous matchup in Smithville - one Warren County won 72-59 - Spates had 15 points and seven assists.
Aiden Cummings led the team with 14 points, while CJ Taylor finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Lacedrick ‘Red’ Cox added 11 points and was responsible for his team’s quick start.
Cox, who has had an up-and-down season behind the arc, drained a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter as Warren County built an 18-9 lead.
It continued to swell in the second quarter, eventually pushing into double figures when Spates led a 3-on-1 break.
With Irving Espinoza on his left and Kaden Rutledge filling the right lane, Spates froze the defender when he picked up his dribble and looked right at Rutledge, only to sling a no-look bounce pass to Espinoza. The senior guard hit the layup just before being pushed from behind, adding an extra point in the process.
Those type of passes, along with a crossover which dropped a DeKalb County player right in front of the Pioneer student section early in the game, come easy to Spates.
“One the break, coach wants me to look for the 3-ball or the dump-down pass. It’s better to get the easy twos,” said Spates. “No-look passes are easy. Teammates just have to get used to them.”
Warren County built a 31-15 lead by halftime, one the never shrunk below double figures in the second half. Sullens was able to empty his bench most of the fourth quarter, including getting Trevor Evans more minutes near the end.
The Pioneers are now 3-0 when Evans, the team’s former manager who is now a full-time fixture on the roster, dresses.
Monday’s win improved the Pioneers to 13-10 and continued the team’s domination of DeKalb County. Warren County has now won 10 straight games in the border battle.
“We feared a letdown after Friday night’s win, but our team played really well outside of the first couple of minutes. They responded by playing unselfish basketball,” said Sullens. “They took care of business outside of district. Now it’s time to prepare for the second half of the district schedule.”
Warren County will look to take down White County at Charlie Dalton Gym Friday. More on the district matchup will be in Friday’s Southern Standard.