Chris Sullens didn’t turn the lights out at Charlie Dalton Gym and come strutting to the court with a stylish robe, but he did channel Ric Flair while trying to motivate the Pioneers for this Friday’s District 6AAA matchup.
If Warren County wants to win the district, it has to go through undefeated White County first.
“As a great philosopher once said, ‘To be the man, you have to beat the man.’ Right now, White County is the man in this district,” said Sullens, quoting one of the Nature Boy’s famous lines. “Coach (Eric) Mitchell has them firing on all cylinders. They are the best team in the district – their record proves it.
“We are excited to get to play them on our home floor with a packed gym. It’s what team sports is all about - a Friday night and crosstown rivals taking the court with district implications on the line.”
Warren County (13-10, 2-2) is currently riding a three-game winning streak and coming off two of its most impressive wins this season. The Pioneers blew out both Cookeville and DeKalb County at home, winning by a combined 36 points, but White County has been a thorn in their sides.
The Pioneers lost to the Warriors 72-54 in the finals of the Sonic Shootout, then fell 69-63 in the district opener for both squads. White County has run its record to 18-5 with four straight district wins, including pounding Stone Memorial 69-45 in a matchup of previously unbeaten district teams.
Both of the previous losses were in Sparta though. Sullens is hopeful he can hear many Ric Flair-like ‘woos’ from the home crowd Friday.
“We expect the crowd to be a big part of our effort and energy. We have to give them something to cheer about,” said Sullens. “The ‘Dalt’ should be the place to be for everybody in these two towns.”
Warren County is hoping to rely on its emerging ‘Big 3’ of CJ Taylor (13.3 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game), Irving Espinoza (10.9 ppg, 40.9 percent on 3-pointers) and Aiden Cummings (15 ppg, 6 rpg in district games.) The Warriors are led by Grant Slatten, who has scored 65 points in two games against Warren County this season.
Tip-off Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday’s matchup is also part of the inaugural basketball homecoming for Warren County High School. The homecoming court will be presented and a king and queen will be chosen during halftime of the boys game.