Raiders fall in district title game

When Taf Bentley took over as the head coach of Navarre’s boys basketball team, the program wasn’t exactly in the greatest shape.

“When we inherited this program we had two wins and no practice jerseys,” Bentley said. “To see where we’ve come, it’s been unbelievable. It’s a credit to the (players).”

The Raiders have indeed come a long way, and on Saturday night, they played for the District 1-7A tournament championship.

Despite a valiant effort, their dream of a title didn’t come true as they fell 48-43 to Niceville at Tate’s Fryman Gymnasium.

Navarre was down 41-30 at the end of the third quarter but got within a possession of tying the game with 16.1 seconds to go after Tre Baker hit two free throws.

The Raiders (17-10), playing in their first district final since 2003, were unable to get any closer, however, as the Eagles (16-9) held on for the win.

“Niceville has been in this situation before and they were more ready than we were,” Bentley said. “But our guys deserve credit for how hard they played. There were no excuses on their faces at the end, only disappointment. They wanted to be district champs.”

It would have been easy for Navarre to wave the white flag earlier in the game. The Raiders trailed 5-0 right out of the gate but ended the first down 9-6. Navarre went into halftime behind 25-19 before the Eagles took charge in the third and built an 11-point lead.

Despite the deficit, the Raiders refused to quit.

Read more in the Feb. 11 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.

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