Raiders affirm progress with thrilling win

With eight seconds on the clock in the second overtime, the Navarre Raiders down a point to district rival Niceville, the ball was put into the hands of De’Naizha Elder.

“Coach told me to drive and that is what I did. The ball went in and I was happy,” Elder said.

Elder’s layup was the difference maker for the Raiders in their 71-70 victory over the Eagles in a wild, back-and-forth District 1-7A showdown in Navarre Thursday night.

“I felt like I was going to get the shot off. I wasn’t sure if it was going in or not, but I was hoping it would,” Elder said. “It was exciting.”

This win over the Eagles goes beyond the scoreboard, though. It puts the Raiders in first place in the district with a 3-1 record, their only loss coming against Niceville on Dec. 3, and gives them a huge boost of confidence going forward.

“It gets them to believe we are a good basketball team,” first-year head coach Jackie Coyne said. “The win is crucial for our confidence.”

Navarre won only two games a year ago but Coyne came in with the mindset that she could turn the program around.

Growing pains existed along the way for sure, but there is no doubt the team is making strides. Through 15 games, the Raiders own a 10-5 record.

“It’s taken time but the girls are learning to trust me more and understanding what we have to do to win games,” Coyne said. “We’re still learning but we continue to get better.”

Navarre trailed 18-11 early in the second quarter but refused to let the game get out of hand. Two baskets by Amber Leggett (15 points) and a steal and layup by Jordyn York sliced the Eagles’ lead to 20-17 with 4:30 to play in the half.

Read the full story in the Jan. 14 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.

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