In the two weeks leading up to Christmas break, Central High School boys' basketball had gone from a 5-0 season start to losing four games. Two of these losses came at home to Cookeville and Oakland.
Fast forward to January and the Red Raiders have won six straight, with Friday's come-from-behind win putting the boys first overall in the district.
"It's great. I told them we're going to have a target on our back being number one," Coach Micah Williams said afterward. "That's something that we're proud of, because everybody's not going to have that target because they're not number one."
Followed closely by Lincoln County, Jan. 4's road win over the Falcons tilts the district advantage in Coffee County's favor.
"Be first in the district, that's what we came in, that's the goal,"Darius Rozier said. "We came in, did the job we're supposed to do."
Securing first place didn't come easy for the Raiders Friday night. The Wildcats kicked off the game with back-to-back three-pointers, advancing to a 9-2 lead midway through the first quarter. Starting with a three-pointer from Andrew Mahaffey, CHS battled back to tighten Lawrence County's lead to 14-12 at the quarter's close.
After a low-scoring start to the second quarter, Rozier gave the Raiders their first lead of the night at 18-16, with four minutes left until halftime. Rod Brinkley hit four points in quick succession to expand the CHS lead, but the Wildcats climbed back to take 25-24 lead at the half.
The Raiders began to turn the game around early in the third. In the first minute, Rozier was fouled on the way to the basket, providing a three-point play and a 27-25 CHS lead. The Raiders took advantage and went into the fourth with a 43-35 advantage.
The Wildcats continued to keep it close down the stretch of the game, tightening the CHS lead to 50-49 with under four minutes to play. The Raiders held on and completed a regular-season sweep of Lawrence County, taking possession of the district top spot.
"We're going to get everybody's best shot," Williams said. "Being on the top where people want to be, we've just got to be even sharper."
Rozier led the way with 18 points. Kyle Farless followed at 11, with Mahaffey right behind at 10. Shawn Anderson finished the game with eight points. Brinkley followed at seven, with six from Jaxon Vaughn.