Raiders advance to district title game

Navarre head girls basketball coach Jackie Coyne didn’t need to say much to her team before Tuesday night’s District 1-7A semifinal tournament game against Tate.

“I told them the season stops here if we lose. I need 32 minutes from you,” Coyne said. “We fell apart a little bit but came through in the end.”

The Raiders did indeed prevail, dominating the first quarter, surviving the middle two quarters and then closing out with a flurry of points in the fourth en route to a 59-37 win over the Aggies.

Navarre (16-6) advances to the district final where it will play Niceville Friday night in a 7 p.m. showdown at home. The two teams shared the regular season district crown, each winning on their respective home floors.

“If we’re on, they are in trouble. If they are on, we’re in trouble. If we’re both on, it’s going to be a really good basketball game,” Coyne said.

Navarre was on top of its game early against Tate, feeding the ball inside to Amber Leggett time and again as it built a 15-3 lead at the end of one quarter. Leggett scored nine points in the first and finished the night with 25.

“Amber had the mismatch,” Coyne said. “They couldn’t stop her.”

The Raiders were ahead 20-5 after Jordyn York turned a steal into a layup. She was fouled on the shot and hit the ensuing free throw with 5:02 to play in the half.

Navarre led 22-15 at halftime and was ahead 32-25 at the end of three quarters, thanks in part to a couple of 3-pointers by York.

De’Naizha Elder, in foul trouble early on, opened the fourth with a drive to the basket that resulted in a layup and a foul. She connected on the free throw for a 35-25 lead with 7:28 remaining.

The Raiders, a two-win team a year ago, rolled from there to keep their postseason run alive. York scored 11 points while Ty Stringfield and Elder finished with 9 and 7 points, respectively.

“We lost the second and third quarters and I told them they had to come out in the fourth and play well. They did a great job of responding,” Coyne said. “Honestly, they had never been in this position before and our nerves showed a little bit. But overall, they played well.”

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