It wasn’t easy – but Coffee County christened District 9-4A play with a pair of wins Tuesday night at Joe Frank Patch Memorial Gymnasium in Manchester.
The CHS Lady Raiders fought off a pesky Shelbyville team – taking a 2-poing lead early in the third and pulling away late for a 73-61 win behind a pair of 20-plus point performances from Oliva Vinson and Natalie Barnes.
“As bad as we were defensively, we were as good offensively,” said CHS head coach Joe Pat Cope after the win, improving the Lady Raiders to 17-3. “They hit some pretty good shots.”
Most of those shots were hit by Paige Blackburn, who torched Coffee County for 24 points. Blackburn had 16 in the first half and hit a few shots in the second half before Jaydee Nogodula came off the bench to shadow her every move and hold her mostly silent down the stretch.
“My job was to not let Paige catch the ball,” said Nogodula.
Lilly Brown had a big second half for the Eaglettes in the paint – where she dropped in 13 of her 15 points.
While the defensive effort was not up to par for what Coffee County would like – the offense was.
Vinson was steady all night – finishing with 22. Barnes piled up 14 second half points to finish with 21 and Jules Ferrell added 13. Ava McIntosh scored 9 – all in the second half, including a pair of 3-pointers and a dribble-drive bucket that turned into a 3-point play.
RAIDER BOYS 38, SHELBYVILLE 33
Shelbyville cut Coffee County’s lead to 1 at 34-33 with 46 seconds to play. But the Eagles never took the lead.
Jackson Shemwell hit a free throw with 22 seconds to play and Cooper Reed sank a pair with 16 seconds to ice the game and pull out a 38-33 win.
That capped what was a sloppy night for the Raiders. Coffee County led 17-7 after one quarter then combined to score only 12 points in the next 2 quarters. The Raiders finished the night with 14 turnovers, which helped the Eagles hang around.
Shelbyville was crushed by terrible free-throw shooting – going 3-of-15 at the stripe.
The Raiders were paced by Jackson Shemwell’s 13 points. Most of those (9) came at the free throw line. Brady Wright scored 8, all in the first half. Cooper Reed added 5, Camden Hunt 4, Jayden Carter 4, Courtland Farrar 3 and Levi Rollman 1.
The win is the fourth straight for the Raiders, putting them above .500 at 10-9. The win over Shelbyville was the 16th straight for the Raider boys, dating back to 2016.
Both teams will travel to Columbia Friday night for a 6 p.m. tip. Both of those games can be heard live on Thunder Radio WMSR 107.9 FM, 1320 AM, 106.7 FM, Manchester Go App and thunder1320.com.