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Bad first half dooms Comets / January 11, 2018
Davin Wilson
Danville Register & Bee
Reprinted with permission

Halifax County couldn’t do anything right in the first half of its Tuesday night contest against George Washington.

When they had fast-break chances, the Comets lost the ball before getting off a shot, or they caved under noise from GW’s crowd and took shots that clanged off the rim. The Comets couldn’t get things going when play was stopped, either, missing often from the free-throw line.

Halifax trailed by double digits for most of the half thanks to the miscues. Despite making some adjustments at the half, the mistakes were too much to overcome, and GW avenged a previous loss to the Comets with a 58-43 win Tuesday.

“We just listened to Coach [Jermaine Parker],” GW’s Nyreek Wheeler said. “We came into the half, and they gave us something new, but we¡¦re GW, and we can adjust to everything, so what we did is do what our coach said, and that’s why we came out with the win.”

Despite opening the third quarter facing a 10-point deficit, Halifax (5-8, 2-4 Piedmont) opened the frame with an 11-4 run and pulled within three on MyQuan Williams’ layup with 5:05 remaining in the quarter. And after trading baskets with GW as time wound down in the period, Halifax found itself down just five.

With his team needing a shot in the arm opening the fourth quarter, Shunta Wilson nailed a 3-pointer, giving the Eagles (11-3, 6-1) a 48-40 lead with 6:35 remaining. From there, GW used a pair of unanswered layups from Clifton Johns and Shamar Parker to extend its lead back to double digits heading down the stretch.

The turning point in the game happened moments later when Halifax was whistled for a technical foul with 3:21 left. Wilson converted both of his attempts from the charity stripe, and Wheeler came up with a layup on the ensuing possession to put GW up by 15 at the 2:36 mark.

His layup capped a string of six consecutive Eagles¡¦ points that sealed the win for GW.

“That was a big mark right there,” Wheeler said. “We already had confidence in our abilities heading down the stretch, but it helped us stretch the game, which allowed us to slow the ball down instead of having to push the ball a lot.”

In the opening minutes, the Eagles looked like they’d be in control throughout when they raced out to a 10-1 run in the opening five minutes. One of the big differences in the game was GW’s pace. The Eagles attacked the rim at a dizzying pace and then hustled back in transition, switching between a 2-3 zone and press.

“You really have to have confidence to play at our pace,” Wheeler said. “That and energy, that¡¦s pretty much all it is.”

Wheeler also credited the support of the Eagles’ home crowd for the victory. “It was really loud in here tonight,” he said. “Anytime we went up for a shot, the crowd was cheering us on, and then every time we forced a turnover or Halifax missed a shot, the noise really rattled them, and we’re thankful for the kind of support we get from them.”

Wheeler’s 24 points was a game- and team-high for the Eagles, while Wilson chipped in 16.

Williams’ 10 points led the way for the Comets.

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