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Comets avoid Fleming upset bid

South Boston News
Comet coach Sterling Williams reacts to a call in Tuesday’s regional tounament quarterfinal game against William Fleming. The Comets win advance to tonight’s semifinal game against North Stafford. The winner will play for the championship Saturday, with both teams in the finals advancing to the state tournament. (David Conner II photo)
SoVaNow.com / February 21, 2019
With much at stake, the Halifax County High School varsity boys’ basketball team showed character and poise, repelling an upset bid Tuesday night by William Fleming.

The Comets put an early stamp on the regional quarterfinal action, and then held on to send Fleming home for the season in an 86-78 final.

Halifax now meets North Stafford here Thursday night in a Class 5 regional matchup. If Halifax wins, and the Comets have home court advantage, two teams meet Saturday in the regional final.

Both of Saturday’s teams play in the Class 5 state tournament.

This Comet team, which had been struggling a bit down the stretch, kept its poise despite repeated efforts by Fleming to slice into the lead, especially late in the game.

Fleming found trouble early and dug itself a 10-2 hole, following a Michael Spraggins 3-pointer. Later, it was 12-2 Comets, with 4:10 left in the first quarter.

Halifax clawed to a 14-5 margin, powered by a strong move by Tyree Dunkley after Spraggins misfired.

Halifax eventually busted through Fleming pressure and led 16-7 on a fine play by Kevon Ferrell. Ferrell had contributions on defense and rebounding and finished in double figures.

MyQuan Williams then slashed through on a dribble-drive through a flummoxed Fleming squad for an 18-7 lead with 1:51 left in the first period.

Fleming closed to within seven, 18-11, with 11 ticks left in the first quarter.

From there, the talented and shorthanded Colonels battled through three periods to add suspense at the end.

Both teams were victimized by foul trouble, and the defenses repeatedly struggled to contain the offenses. Halifax had an excellent offensive effort, but Fleming certainly kept responding throughout a torrid regional showdown.

Physicality reigned, and Halifax shook off a lengthy layoff, having not played since a Piedmont District semifinal loss to Martinsville.

GW-Danville eventually won the tournament final over Martinsville.

But Halifax won’t see either of those teams - in lower classifications - the rest of the way.

Every time the Comets thought they had swatted the Colonels, the visitors kept battling.

Halifax led 43-34 at the halftime break, and 64-52 after an offensively overheated third quarter.

Fleming’s Zion Gee immediately scored to slice the Comet lead to ten, 64-54, to start the final period.

Halifax then started hitting its free throws with enough consistency to hold off Fleming. Dunkley hit two free throws for a 66-54 Comet lead.

Fleming guard Don Goode tickled the nets for a 3-pointer with 6:17 left, but the Comets’ Brashaam Truesdale-El went on a wheeling and dealing drive through for a 68-57 advantage.

With 4:58 left, Fleming completely controlled the glass on one possession, drawing back within nine, 70-61.

But Williams made two free throws and the home team led, 72-61.

Fleming finally managed to cut the lead to six points, 79-73, on a creative move by 22.

Then, Spraggins went almost the length of the court to drop a strike to Kendall Dixon, and Halifax again busted pressure for a 81-73 lead.

Goode got the visitors within six again, 81-75, with 2:31 remaining. Fleming later had its shot at filling the final minute with grinding tension, misfiring with the Comet lead standing at 84-78.

Spraggins again stepped up with a key drive off the dribble, and scored to lift the Comets to an 86-78 margin with 1:04 left. That proved to be the end of the scoring show.

Eventually, the Colonels surrendered with the clock ticking down.

Fleming left town with nothing to be ashamed about, while Halifax savored the finale.

“Tonight, it was a physical team we played, probably one of the most physical teams we have played all year,” Spraggins said.

The Comets went with an intense practice session to get ready, and it paid off.

Spraggins said he was letting the game come to him, and his shots were falling.

The Comets are a confident bunch, and Halifax has to play as team tonight to advance.





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