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SWEET 16: Lady Raiders advance to region title game for first time since 1993

Lady Raider head coach Joe Pat Cope fist pumps his way to the locker room after Natalie Barnes buried a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer Monday to cap a 14-0 period for the Lady Raiders. -- Photo by Holly Peterson, THUNDER RADIO WMSR

Coffee County basketball got a 30 year monkey off its back Monday.

The Lady Raiders completely shut down Shelbyville in the second quarter and beat the Eaglettes 40-24 in the Region 5-4A semi-finals Monday night at Centennial.

It’s the first time the Lady Raider program has advanced past the region semi-final round since 1993 – which happens to be the last time the Lady Raiders won a state title. They are now one of 16 teams remaining in the state.

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“It’s a Donkey Kong sized monkey off our back tonight,” said CHS head coach Joe Pat Cope. “We have had tough luck in this game and tonight our girls fought through that ceiling and now we have a great opportunity in front of us.”

The Lady Raiders will play a familiar foe in the region championship. Lincoln County, who the Lady Raiders beat 49-45 in the District 9-4A championship game, beat Nolensville 47-44 on a buzzer beater Monday.

The Region Championship game will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday. As of now ,that game will be played at Centennial High School.

“Lincoln County is a very good ball team – no doubt a top 10 team in the state,” said Cope.

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A win Wednesday means the Lady Raiders will host the state sectional at 7 p.m. Saturday for a trip to the state tournament next week in Murfreesboro. A loss Wednesday would mean the Lady Raiders travel for the state sectional game Saturday.

“We are excited to be in this position,” said sophomore guard Natalie Barnes. “We aren’t satisfied with this, though. We have our eyes set on state (tournament).”

Monday night in the region semi-finals against Shelbyville, the Lady Raiders took a 9-9 score after one quarter and turned in into a 23-9 halftime lead. They extended that run to 16-0 into the third quarter before the Eaglettes finally broke it. Shelbyville never seriously threatened the lead.

Junior post Channah Gannon led the Lady Raiders with 12 points on the night.

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“We knew we would get their best effort tonight and they were going to get ours,” explained Gannon. “It was a physical game tonight. I felt like they were focused on the inside game.”

Barnes finished with 10. Olivia Vinson and Audri Patton each dropped in 7 and Jules Ferrell had 4.

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