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BASKETBALL: Raiders drop thriller to Columbia in district title

Cayden Trail goes up for 2 of his 12 points Tuesday, Fe.b 20, 2024. -- photo by Holly Peterson, THUNDER RADIO WMSR

Coffee County stormed back from down 14 in the second half and cut the Columbia lead to 1 point with 14 seconds to play but could never grab the lead and a final attempt for a game winner ended up in a turnover in a 43-40 loss to the Lions in the District 9-4A championship game at Joe Frank Patch Memorial Gymnasium in Manchester Tuesday.

Coffee County spent the entire fourth quarter ratcheting up defensive pressure, turning over the Lions and slowly clawing back into the game.

Brady Wright buried his first 3-pointer of the game with 14 seconds on the clock to pull the Raiders to within 1 at 41-40. The Raiders fouled the Lions and ended up getting a miss on the second free throw to take possession with 10 seconds to play down by 2. But a pass from Courtland Farrar ended up out of bounds with 2 seconds to play and the Raiders could never recover.

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The fact that Coffee County was able to even press the issue at the end was impressive. The Raiders were without senior leader Jackson Shemwell for much of the game due to foul trouble. Shemwell eventually fouled out with 3:12 left in the game. And Coffee County was atrocious at the free throw line, hitting on just 7 of 21 opportunities.

Most of the deficit was dug in the second quarter. The Raiders took a 14-11 lead after one period then mustered just 3 points in the second quarter, falling behind 24-17.

The slow first half for the Raiders was slightly masked by junior Cayden Trail, who came off the bench and sparked the Raiders with 7 first quarter points. Trail finished with a team-high 12.

The Raiders forced 17 Lion turnovers in the game – 12 of those coming in the second half to help CHS crawl back into the game.

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The loss means the Raiders will host the no. 3 Franklin Admirals out of District 10 in the Region quarterfinals Saturday, Feb. 24.

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