Lady Raiders bit by turnover troubles in first regular season district loss since 2018

Lady Raider Jalie Ruehling tries to work through a double team of Lady Pioneers Kyra Perkins and Mia Hobbs (14). -- Thunder Radio photo by Holly Peterson

Coffee County didn’t look like the state powerhouse program that had won 49 consecutive regular season district games Friday night.

The Central High School Lady Raiders turned the basketball over an astounding 23 times and couldn’t get looks at the basket late in a 48-42 loss at Warren County High School.

“The better team won the game tonight, you have to tip your hat to them,” said Coffee County head coach Joe Pat Cope. “We played scared tonight and that shouldn’t happen. We got outhustled tonight, and that should never happen.”

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For Coffee County the issue centered around handling defensive pressure. The Lady Raiders turned the ball over 23 times – 13 in in the second half. Coffee County was able to tie the game at 39-39 with 3:39 to play on a big 3-point play by Channah Gannon.

But after that it was all Warren County. The Lady Raiders trailed 43-42, then allowed a 5-0 run to close the night and the game, including a pair of trips to tie or take the lead without getting off shots.

Coffee County was led in scoring by freshman guard Natalie Barnes with 14 points. Barnes went on an 8-0 run all on her own in the third quarter to keep Coffee County close and trailing by 3 after the third quarter. Chloe Gannon had 12.

The Lady Raiders weren’t able to get to the free throw line often, going only 3-of-7 when they did get there.

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Warren County was paced by Kyra Perkins with 21 points – a career high against Coffee County.

The loss for Coffee County ends a 49-game district regular season winning streak and drops the Lady Raiders to 27-2 on the season. The loss snaps a 12-game winning streak over Warren County and it also sets up what is certain to be a tie with the Lady Pioneers for a regular season title. The Lady Pioneers still have to beat Shelbyville on Tuesday.

But in the big scheme, the loss means virtually nothing for Coffee County. The Lady Raiders have a week off before beginning the District 6-4A tournament the week of Feb. 13 in Manchester where there will almost certainly be a rematch with the Lady Pioneers for first place in the tournament. A top two tournament finish will guarantee a home region quarter-final game and put Coffee County only a few wins away from a state tournament bid.

“We are going to get after it this week,” added Cope.

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