Sports

REGION TOURNAMENT: 5 things to know for the Lady Raiders region championship game Wednesday.

The 2023-2024 Coffee County Central Lady Raiders pose with their District 9-4A Championship plaque. Including the tournament, the Lady Raiders went 12-0 in district play. -- Photo by Holly Peterson, THUNDER RADIO WMSR.

Coffee County Central’s Lady Raider basketball team has jumped on a historic wave and hopes to ride it as long as possible.

The 30-3 Lady Raiders won the District 9-4A regular season championship, tournament championship and now with two wins in the Region 5-4A tournament have positioned themselves for a shot at the TSSAA State Tournament.

The Lady Raiders will take on a familiar foe Wednesday – the Lady Falcons of Lincoln County. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Centennial High School. You can hear the broadcast on Thunder Radio WMSR with extended pregame beginning at 6:30 p.m. (107.9 FM, 1320 AM, Manchester Go App and Thunder1320.com)

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FALCON FATIGUE

The matchup with the Lady Falcons will be the fourth time the two teams have met in the last 25 days.

The Lady Raiders beat the Lady Falcons 56-50 in Fayetteville back on Feb. 3, followed by a decisive 59-43 win in Manchester Feb. 6 before squeaking out a district championship over Lincoln County 49-45 Feb. 19.

This will be the first time the two teams have met on a neutral court.

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“Lincoln County is no doubt a top 10 team in the state of Tennessee,” said CHS head coach Joe Pat Cope. “They are physical, they have talented players and they are well coached. Playing a team this many times so close together kind of comes down to who shoots it well and limits mistakes.”

HISTORIC NIGHT

One of the programs will win their first ever region championship.

Lincoln County has actually never played for a region title and has officially eclipsed the deepest postseason run in Falcon program history.

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While the Lady Raiders won a state championship in 1993, they actually did not win the region that year – losing to White County. This would be the first region championship in team history for CHS.

RAIDER RULE

As good as the Falcons have been in the past handful of years, Coffee County has managed to stay just a step ahead.

Coffee County has beaten Lincoln County 16 consecutive times. The last loss for Coffee County against Lincoln County was Jan. 19, 2016 when the Lady Falcons won 59-37. Since arriving at Coffee County, Lady Raider head coach Joe Pat Cope has never lost to Lincoln County.

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The Falcons are 72-20 since start of 2021-22 season. Lady Raiders are 196-26 since start of 2017 season under head coach Joe Pat Cope, including 7 district titles.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Both programs are certainly familiar with the other. The Falcons will feature the physical inside play of Alyssa Petty and the strong outside shooting of Abby Bryan – who hit the game-winner over Nolensville in the semi-finals.

The Falcons also have Molly Brown who has given Coffee County trouble at times. Keep an eye on Grasen Tipps who, scored a career high 18 against Brentwood in the region quarter finals.

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For the Lady Raiders the usual suspects of Barnes, Vinson and Ferrell will obviously draw attention. But junior post Channah Gannon seems to have found her footing after recovering from ankle surgery. Gannon has combined for 36 in two games in the region tournament.

Sophomore Audri Patton jump started the Lady Raider offense Monday against Shelbyville with a pair of 3-pointers.

JUST ONE MORE

While a region championship plaque will look nice in the trophy case, Wednesday’s game doesn’t matter much in terms of going to the state tournament.

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The winner on Wednesday will host a state sectional game at 7 p.m. Saturday – taking on the loser of Beech and Hendersonville. Meanwhile, the loser Wednesday will travel to the winner of Beech and Hendersonville Saturday.

Win on Saturday and you go to the TSSAA State Tournament next week. Lose on Saturday and the season ends.

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