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Raptors Take Girls Title in Tennessee

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Raptors Take Girls Title in Tennessee

The Lady Raptors celebrate their win.

After having defeated all comers in the fall of 2020 with a perfect record in 7s and garnering the Olympic 7's Tennessee State Championship title, the Lady Raptors knew that 15s would be a much tougher hill to climb in the spring of 2021. 

The teams from Middle and East Tennessee were packed with athletes who loved to hit, drive forward, and run like the wind. 

The Tennessee Girls HS State Championship finished on May 8 with the Lady Raptors coming out on top over Spring Hill High School. These two sides met in the regular season and the state final was just as scrappy. Both teams played solid defenses and the experienced backline of Spring Hill kept them in every match on the heels of their forwards as they busted through the line.

They were coming off a triple overtime victory over the Columbia Central High School Lady Lionesses just three days before.

The first match during the regular season between the Lady Raiders of Spring Hill and the Lady Raptors saw both teams trade scores in a game that was on a knife edge throughout. 

It was the combination of Thunder and Lightning that pushed the Lady Raptors to the top in both matches. Twin Sisters Kelsey and Kaylen Thomas were the answer for everything that Spring Hill could do.  Kelsey (Tunder) used her length and strength to stop attack after attack, and sister Kaylen (lightning) used her pace to score four tries and take the victory from a very talented and stubborn Spring Hill side.

Haven Hawkins (Queens signee), Aisha Djona, and Gwynn Campos (West Point signee), held the backline down for Spring Hill and created opportunities where there seemed to be none against a stalwart defense by the Lady Raptors. Spring Hill used quick taps from penalties and pick-and-goes in the forwards to put the Lady Raptors on their back foot. After trading scores in the first half, the only separation was conversions—Raptor Rachel Martelle converted both attempts and the Raiders missed both making it 14-10.

In the second half, behind the leadership and jackal ability of junior scrumhalf and captain Stephanie Esmonde, as well as the efforts of newcomers Saraia McGhee, Kel Branchflower, and Maddy Jones,, the Lady Raptors found a way to slow down the hard-running Janyla Oglesby of the Lady Raiders and hold them off the board.  Solid tackling by the newcomers along with forwards Skylar Johnson, Kira DeFriez, and Ruth Ann Nowotny was the key to overcoming multiple penalties.  While this defensive effort would have potentially been enough to secure the victory, it was Lightning striking twice more that truly sealed the deal.

After two first-half tries (one coming just minutes before halftime to take back the lead), Kaylen Thomas scored twice more in the second half from her inside center position, using her pace and evasive skills time and again. With Martelle converting both of these tries as well, the Raptors finished it off 28-10.