Demarco Moore, Sports Writer
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Franklin County’s game plan was to play “bully ball” against the pressure defense of Coffee County.
The Rebelettes drove and attacked the paint all night, but senior Alliyah Williams and the Lady Raiders turned Franklin County away, punching their ticket to the Region 4-AAA tournament with a 61-45 win over their District 8-AAA rivals Tuesday night inside the Joe Frank Patch Memorial Gym.
With the win, Coffee County (22-2 overall; 9-1 District 8-AAA) ensured that the winner of its Friday night rematch against Shelbyville — which fell to Lincoln County 49-43 on Tuesday — will decide the district’s regular-season champion.
The Lady Raiders can finish no worse than second in the district, meaning that they will enter next week’s district tournament with a first-round bye and an automatic berth in the Region 4-AAA tournament the following week.
Now back to Tuesday’s game against Franklin County.
Coffee County shook off four turnovers in the first four minutes to take a 13-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. Franklin County opted to go physical with a man-to-man defense, but the Lady Raiders used their size advantage to attack the Rebelette defense.
Ashtin Holman finished with 15 points for Franklin County, but they were hard-earned, as Williams blocked six shots on the night and altered a number of others. Williams would also add eight points.
For the game, Coffee County finished with a total of eight blocked shots.
Coffee County held a 38-28 lead after the third quarter, but pulled away thanks to another great shooting performance at the free-throw line, where the Lady Raiders made a staggering 30-of-42 attempts.
Freshman Bella Vinson (19 points) and junior Jacey Vaughn (18 points) combined to go 21-of-28 at the free-throw line, as the Lady Raiders led by as many as 21 points down the stretch.
Red Raiders 64, Franklin County 44
Coffee County’s six-game road trip had been one to forget for Garrett Booth and the Red Raiders.
The Red Raiders had dropped four-straight District 8-AAA games, plagued by slow starts and free-throw struggles, and Booth had scored a combined 15 points in all four losses.
So Coffee County head coach Micah Williams gave Booth the green light, the senior point guard caught fire and the Red Raiders cruised past Franklin County 64-44 in their return to Manchester on Tuesday night.
Coffee County (14-8 overall; 6-4 District 8-AAA) scored the first 14 points of the game and never looked back, as the Red Raiders racked up eight steals on their way to taking a 31-13 lead at halftime.
10 different players scored at least once for Coffee County, which stretched its lead to 46-23 at the end of the third quarter. Booth led all scorers with 21 points, finishing 5-of-8 at the 3-point line.
The Red Raiders didn’t have many attempts at the free-throw line — they finished 5-of-7 — but made the most of their attempts after struggling on their road-losing streak.
For Franklin County, Nemo Smith and Cameron Taylor each scored 11 points to lead their team.
(Figures after player’s last name denote field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted and total points.)
Lady Raiders (61)
Bella Vinson 5-6 9-13 19, Jacey Vaughn 3-5 12-15 18, Alliyah Williams 2-2 4-8 8, Jenna Garretson 3-5 1-2 7, Abby Morgan 1-1 4-4 6
Team totals: 14-19 (Field goals), 30-42 (Free throws)
3-point goals: 1-6 (Ellie Graham 1-1, Bella Vinson 0-1, Abby Morgan 0-2, Jacey Vaughn 0-2)
Red Raiders (64)
Garrett Booth 2-8 2-2 21, Darius Rozier 6-12 1-1 13, De’Aaron Rozier 3-5 1-2 7, Grey Riddle 3-5 0-0 6, A.J. Rollman 1-2 0-0 5, Andrew Mahaffey 0-1 1-2 4, Chase Simpkins 1-1 0-0 2, Weston Hargrove 1-2 0-0 2, Harley Hinshaw 1-2 0-0 2, Josh Perry 1-1 0-0 2
Team totals: 19-40 (Field goals), 5-7 (Free throws)
3-point goals: 7-14 (Garrett Booth 5-8, Andrew Mahaffey 1-2, A.J. Rollman 1-2, Darius Rozier 0-1, De’Aaron Rozier 0-1)
NEXT GAME: Home versus Shelbyville on Friday, Feb. 9 (Senior night, 6 p.m. )
Reach Demarco Moore at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter, @iam__demo