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Pioneers see season end in region tourney
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If Warren County wants to continue to cut down nets, coach Chris Sullens says improvement needs to be made. Sullens described the basketball program as taking a step backward this year and said he’s going to conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation.
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Nate Elrod is expected to be a key contributor next year in what will be his senior year for the Pioneers.

A tumultuous basketball season for the WCHS Pioneers came to an end Saturday in the first round of the region tournament with a 72-45 loss to Walker Valley in Cleveland.

The loss ends the year for Warren County with a 10-18 record.

Warren County coach Chris Sullens said he is proud of this squad saying, “It’s always tough when a season ends. We have five seniors who made the commitment and I’m proud to coach them.”

Prior to this season, the Pioneers won back-to-back district tournament championships. Last year, Warren County reached the sectional round, which is one win away from the eight-team state tournament.

This year, Warren County lost all three of its games in the district and region tournaments. The Pioneers started 4-0, then went 6-18 the rest of the way.

“As a program we took a giant step back this year,” said Sullens. “We didn’t meet expectations, and that falls squarely on my shoulders. We will examine every area in the program. Fundamentally we have to get better. We saw glimpses of good basketball but no consistency. We don’t make excuses. I also think we have to get players to understand how teams work.”

Sullens said a team of coaches provide valuable teaching before players reach the high school level. WCMS is the biggest feeder program for basketball.

“Credit needs to go to coach Adam Wood, who is now on our staff, and coach Isaiah Phillips along with some county coaches for our success in the past seven years,” said Sullens. “I appreciate the help they provided in making young men know how to practice, how teams work, the right and wrong way of how to be a teammate, plus teaching fundamental skills.”

“Anytime you take a step backwards it is a wake-up call and if you see issues then you need to make changes to the program as a whole. The next 3-4 weeks I will let those above me know the changes that I see need to take place for Warren County basketball to get back to being one of the most competitive teams in the Midstate.”

Sullens said the program will be examined with a “fine-tooth comb.” He said one area of emphasis is teaching players how to be better teammates. 

“We don’t strive to be average. The goals while I am here have always been district and region championships. Those don’t come by accident, and you won’t get there without doing it the right way.”

In the 72-45 season-ending loss to Walker Valley, Kaden Rutledge led the Pioneers with 11 points. Nate Elrod and Eli Kuykendall both scored 7.