In its last two games, Coffee County Middle School boys' basketball struggled in the second half against Warren County, followed by a down-to-the-wire finish against Cannon County. It was different Thursday night, as the Red Raiders went up by double digits late in the game for a 41-22 win over Tullahoma East.
"That third quarter was huge," Coach Jonathan Oliver said. "That was when we really started kicking it in gear and running our stuff."
Hayden Garr put the boys up early, hitting a three-pointer for the game's first points just over a minute in. East was able to start putting its offense together, but CMS held on for a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Dayne Crosslin and Jackson Shemwell came out swinging in the second, both hitting buckets in the first minute to increase the CMS lead. The Panthers battled back, coming within four of the Raiders before Garr hit another one to a make it a 21-15 CMS advantage at halftime.
Early in the second half, East hit five points to make it a 23-20 game. This would be Panther's only points of the third quarter, while the Raiders exploded for 16 points over its remainder to take a 37-20 lead into the fourth.
The CMS offense slowed to four points in the final quarter, but it made little difference. The Panthers hit a single basket over the course of the period, securing a 19-point win for the Raiders on eighth grade night.
With Coffee Middle's home schedule complete, the team will travel to North Franklin and Harris Middle next week to wrap up the regular season.
"We're trying to focus on ourselves. We know what we're up against," Oliver said. "I'm not really too worried about the other team, I just want us to make sure we do what we've gotta do."
Garr led the Raiders with 13 points. He was followed by Crosslin's 10. Cooper Reed finished the night with eight, followed by Shemwell with six. Ethan Hargrove and Jack Anderson finished with two each.