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Comets confident heading to tournament

South Boston News
Comet center Evin Morrison fights for control of the ball Friday. / December 26, 2012
The Halifax County High School varsity basketball team enjoyed two confidence-building wins Thursday and Friday heading into this week’s Holiday Classic at the high school.

Halifax County capped off a back-to-back sweep in non-conference action last Friday, downing Magna Vista decisively, 72-36, in Blue Heaven. One night earlier, the Comets swamped E.C. Glass, 62-42.

HCHS now heads to the annual holiday tournament with a burst of momentum. The Comets are 5-4, having won three games in a row.

The Classic has a new lineup on the boys’ side, with the Roxboro, N.C., Community School taking the spot traditionally filled on the boys side by Person County.

Bluestone also takes the spot previously occupied by Pamlico County, N.C. As for the boys’ slate, Park View will meet Roxboro Community School at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. HCHS meets Bluestone in the second boys’ game at 7:30 p.m.

The boys’ tournament consolation is set for 4:30 Friday, with the boys’ tournament title game scheduled at 7:30 p.m.

Comet coach Larry Epperly has some reason for optimism, noting the three-game win streak has been built primarily off the HCHS defense and steals. HCHS is now averaging about 12 steals per game, he noted. Those steals have created offensive opportunities for the Comets.

There are other areas of progress. The Comets are learning to play together better and the rotation has solidified. The Comet staff now knows which player needs the minutes at the critical times in a game, and those are essential elements that are learned as the season progresses, in most cases.

HCHS is still battling through some turnover issues, but that aspect of the Comet game has improved, Epperly said.

Epperly knows high school kids are going to make mistakes, but he’s looking for excellent effort and attitude. The spirit of the team is excellent, with two of the three most recent wins on the road.

Halifax is building momentum and confidence, and every time the Comets post another ‘W’, those intangibles grow.

One possible concern is that HCHS will have only one day of practice on Wednesday for the two-day tournament, but Epperly also expects that’s the case with the other teams in this tournament.

Halifax is also getting excellent play from its bench, as Kory Lennon, Dakota Delaware and Trelanne Johnson have contributed to this win streak.

The Comets dominated Magna Vista. The teams will be part of the new-look Piedmont district next winter. Halifax had balanced scoring, led by Tavion Petty with 18 points.

Keyshawn Johnson continued his steady play with 12 points.

Trelanne Johnson added nine, while Dakota Delaware contributed eight. James Burden and Kory Lennon scored seven apiece and Kevon Tucker hit a pair of three-pointers and finished with six points. T.J. Brooks connected on a fourth quarter trey and finished with three points.

Halifax started slowly, but won the first period, 12-10. Six Comets got on the board in this period.

Halifax extended its momentum in the second half, outscoring Magna Vista, 12-8. The Comets built a 24-18 first half lead.

The Comets hit a higher gear in the second half, beginning with a 26-13 run in the third period.

Petty ignited the surge, connecting on a pair of three-pointers and scoring 12 of his game-high total in the period. Trelanne Johnson hit a three-pointer in the third, and Halifax took control, leading 50-31 at the end of the third period.

Halifax routed Magna Vista in the final period, outscoring Magna Vista, 22-5. The visitors managed just one field goal in the final eight minutes. Defensive excellence was part of the winning theme in the Magna Vista game. The visitors connected on six field goals in the first half and five in the second half. Magna Vista connected on two treys in the first quarter and three in the third quarter.

Halifax struggled through a mediocre night at the foul line, connecting on five-of-14 shots.

In earlier action on the road, Halifax breezed by E.C. Glass, securing a season sweep.

Seven Comets scored, led by 22 points from Trelanne Johnson. Keyshawn Johnson added 12, while Tavion Petty had eight. Kory Lennon and Tevin Edmunds had seven points apiece and Dakota Delaware chipped in with six. Burden had two.

Glass started well, outscoring the Comets 13-8 in the first period. But HCHS went on a 15-4 run in the second period to seize a 23-17 first half lead.

K. Johnson and T. Johnson each hit a three-pointer in the period. Halifax was even stronger in the third period, adding 20 points in the quarter. K. Johnson scored nine of his 12 in the period and the Comets owned a 43-31 lead heading into the final period.

Akeem Jones led Glass with 12 points and was the lone Hilltopper in double figures.

Halifax did a better job on the foul line, connecting on 20-of-26 free throws. T. Johnson was outstanding here, connecting on 11-of-13, and T. Edmunds sank seven of eight.

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