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Pioneers primed for district game in Sparta
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The last time he played at White County High School, C.J. Taylor lifted the Pioneers to a district tournament championship with a shot at the buzzer. The Pioneers return to Sparta on Friday night for a district grudge match with first place on the line.

When asked if the team is excited about tonight’s WCHS Pioneer basketball game in Sparta, senior and team captain C.J. Taylor had a quick response, “Yes this game is firing everyone in our locker room up!” 

This is a senior-led Warren County High School basketball team that wants to even the score with White County. There are four senior starters, C.J., Aiden Cummings, Dante Elam, and the floor general, Dee Spates. 

The Pioneers lost to White County at home a little over two weeks ago by 9 points, 64-53. Ole Miss commitment Grant Slatten lead the Warriors with 38 points in that game.

C.J. predicts a different outcome Friday night, “Two of the best teams in the state, and last game we gave them uncontested shots because we lost Grant Slatten. That won’t happen again. We wanna win the district season title, and in order to do that we have to split with these guys. We are the better team.”

The Pioneers had a “modern” history of losing to White County in basketball, but that has changed with Chris Sullens as head coach. Sullens is 4-6 in the last 10 games against White County. 

Last year Warren County beat White County in the district tournament for the championship with a C.J. basket at the buzzer. 

White County head coach Eric Mitchell says it got a lot tougher playing against Warren County when Sullens became head coach. Mitchell added, “Warren County -- going to get their A game -- we get everyone’s A game.”

There is a different atmosphere at the games without students cheering their teams during the pandemic. Coach Mitchell said, “I miss the emotion, but I believe our players are playing with the same intensity. One difference may be when a team makes a run, the crowd and students are not there to help extend the lead like a sixth man.”

Although games may look and feel like scrimmages at times with very limited crowds of only parents and families, the district games are much more intense. Tonight’s game is very meaningful. Make no mistake, this Pioneer team wants to be regular-season district champs and tonight is a must-win game for the title.

Coach Sullens said, “Both teams are confident in their respective teams, and both teams respect each other. We expect to play well. We are proud as a program that we play these meaningful type of games, year-in and year-out. Tonight should be a lot of fun.”

Warren County fans can expect the Pioneers to try and limit White County’s big gun, Grant Slatten, in transition and not give him easy shots. Not fouling Slatten will be another goal. Slattten and White County’s other big man, Kade Clark, are coming off recent injuries and are expected to be ready for tonight’s games.

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