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REGION CHAMPIONS!!!!!

Brady Nugent, right, and Phineas Rollman celebrate at the final horn as the Coffee County Red Raiders beat Walker Valley 51-46 in double overtime Thursday, March 3, 2022 to claim the Region 3-4A Championship. — Thunder Radio photo by Holly Peterson

MANCHESTER — There are instant classics. Then there is what happened at The Patch Thursday night.

The Coffee County Central Red Raiders erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and came out on top of Walker Valley 51-46 in double overtime of the Region 3-4A Championship game. The first region title for the program since the 1970s.

The Mustangs of Walker Valley had beaten the Raiders by double digits twice earlier this season.

“I’m just so proud of this team, so proud of these guys and what they have accomplished for our school,” said and emotional Coffee County Head Coach Andrew Taylor after the win.

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“This community loves basketball and … I’ve been around it a lot and this scene tonight,” added Taylor, talking about the crowd and the atmosphere, “It really reminds me a lot of the girls in 1993.”

The Thunder Radio of the final 15 seconds in double overtime for the Raiders. The pass ahead to Crosslin seals the region title for the Red Raiders. — Thunder Radio audio, Josh Peterson & Joe Pat Cope. All Rights Reserved.

The win means the Raiders will host Stewarts Creek in the state sectional at 7 p.m. Monday night. The winner of that game will go to the TSSAA State Tournament.

Thursday night in Manchester, the Raiders got off the mat in the fourth quarter when things looked bleak – erasing a 10 point deficit in just 5 minutes of game play. Red Raider junior Dayne Crosslin nailed a 3 with 5:40 to play to eat into the Mustangs lead, then Crosslin buried another one with 4:49 to play to cut the deficit to 2.

Senior Aidan Abellana found some room in the paint and knocked down an inside shot to complete the comeback at 44-44 with 2:57 to play.

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“We talked in the locker room about how we were a fourth quarter team,” explained Taylor. “And when we went into the fourth quarter down 10 there was no panic on our bench, no concern with our guys. That was an excellent finish.”

The Mustangs actually held the ball for the final 2:57 of regulation and put up a final shot at the buzzer that was no good.

The Raiders took a 46-44 lead in the first overtime on a pair of free throws from Phineas Rollman with 33 seconds to play. But Walker Valley’s Hobert Brabson was fouled on his way to the bucket with just 3.7 seconds on the clock and the guard was able to knock down both free throws under immense pressure to tie the game.

The Raiders actually got a long inbound pass ahead and Abellana had a legitimate look at a 3 to win the game but it hit back iron – forcing double overtime.

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The Raiders took the lead in the second overtime and never gave it up.

Rollman hit a free throw with 3:43 to play and Brady Nugent got to the basket with 1:14 to play to put CHS up 49-46. With 15 seconds to play, the Raiders got an outlet ahead to Crosslin who dropped it in the bucket in the final seconds to set the final.

Counting both overtimes, the Raider defense held Walker Valley to to 2 points over the final 11 minutes of game time. The Mustangs only scored 8 points in the final 16 minutes (including both overtimes).

Crosslin finished with 20 points for the Raiders – following up his 25 point night Tuesday night against Franklin County. Shemwell had 16 points and Nugent 6.

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The Raiders will now host Stewarts Creek at 7 p.m. Monday at The Patch. The winner advances to the state tournament, the loser’s season will end. That game will be broadcast on Thunder Radio.

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