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Comets fall to Franklin, face Bassett tonight

SoVaNow.com / February 12, 2018
Halifax County’s first Piedmont District boys basketball tournament game since 2015, the year in which the Comets won the league championship, can be illustrated by the old adage about bad things happening in threes.

Leading by 25 points twice – 52-27 and 56-31 as the third quarter neared its conclusion, the Comets failed to stymie a Ripley’s Believe It or Not-like rally by No. 4 seed Franklin County over the game’s final 10 minutes that led to a 73-64 Eagles’ triumph in the quarterfinals of the league’s revived postseason tournament Friday night at Samuel M. Hawkins-Central Gymnasium in Rocky Mount.

Despite the loss, the Comets, the No. 5 seed in the eight-team tournament are not done with postseason play. They’ll face No. 3 seed Bassett, which fell at home to No. 6 seed Magna Vista in its quarterfinal-round game, in a loser’s round contest today at Bassett.

All eight of the district’s teams were guaranteed two games in the tournament regardless of the quarterfinal-round outcomes.

Following today’s contest, the Comets begin preparations for Class 5 regional tournament play.

FCHS’s win, its third this season over Halifax, moves the Eagles into today’s semifinals against top-seed Martinsville. Today’s other semifinal matches No. 2 seed George Washington-Danville and Magna Vista.

The consolation and championship games are set for Tuesday at a site to be determined.

For the Comets, bad things happened in threes when Franklin County was their hardwood foe.

Cases in point:

In its 61-60 win at Hawkins Gym in December, FCHS scored the game’s final seven points to claim victory.

In its triumph in South Boston last month, FCHS trailed by 19 points at halftime before rallying in the second half.

In Friday’s postseason triumph, FCHS netted 42 of its 73 points in the game’s closing 10 minutes. The Eagles outscored the Comets 33-8 in the fourth quarter.

Chandler Taylor, who was 12 of 12 from the free-throw line, netted a game-best 29 points for the Eagles and Jalon Twine tallied 20. Both made eight field goals; however, four of Twine’s were 3-pointers.

FCHS did not achieve its first lead of the second half until the 2:29 mark when Glenn Parris drilled a 3-pointer. Halifax recaptured the advantage with 2:13 to go courtesy of a Michael Spraggins deuce.

A third lead change occurred seconds later when Taylor swished the verdict-rendering basket – his lone trey of the game with 1:50 showing. Trailing 65-63, Spraggins drew a foul on Halifax’s next possession. Given the opportunity to equal the count with two made free throws, the Comets junior forward was only able to convert his second attempt.

That point with 1:38 to go proved to be Halifax’s final one.

The Eagles finished the game with an 8-0 run in which six of those points were produced by perfect free-throw shooting: Taylor was 4 of 4 and Nathan Brooks with 2 of 2. It was Brooks who netted the only field goal of the spurt with 21.4 seconds to go.

The Eagles, trailing 56-31, produced a 9-0 run to close the third period. That surge reduced the deficit to 16 points and set the stage for the final frame.

A basket and two free throws by Taylor and two free throws by Parris set the stage for Twine’s NBA-distance 3-pointer that singed the bottom of the twine just before the horn.

FCHS used full-court pressure that perplexed Halifax into committing several, early-quarter turnovers, along with a few unforced errors. Taylor opened the period with a steal and lay-up and would later turn two more steals into points to pull the Eagles within nine points, 58-49, with 6:21 left.

Then, Twine swished back-to-back 3-pointers to slice the deficit to three, 58-55, with five minutes remaining.

Over the first three minutes of the period, the Comets managed only two made free throws by MyQuan Williams.

A Taylor basket with 4:12 left pulled the Eagles to within one. Halifax got a free throw from Terrell Carden before Matias Hodnett made two attempts to square the count at 59 with 3:37 showing.

Following a Halifax time out Spraggins broke the stalemate with a basket – the first of only two field goals registered in the fourth quarter, both of which were netted by Spraggins.

FCHS led 14-13 after the opening quarter, but the second stanza and the majority of the third period belonged to the Comets.

Oddly enough, the Eagles scored the first seven points of the second quarter before Halifax responded with an 11-0 run to move in front by three, 24-21.

A Twine basket with 3:46 showing cut the deficit to one, but it represented FCHS’s final points of the half as the Comets finished the quarter with a 15-0 surge.

That run started with a Tyree Dunkey 3-pointer and ended with a Carden trey. In between, Williams netted seven consecutive points on a three-point play, two free throws and a basket.

Brooks scored the first points of the second half to make the count 39-25. The difference was 16 points when the Comets started a 9-0 spurt that pushed the spread to 25, 52-27. Later, a Carden basket would duplicate that difference.

Carden finished with a team-best 18 points, while Williams tallied 17 and Dunkey netted 12 and Spraggins added nine.

Three other players scored for Halifax, which made 22 field goals, four of which were 3-pointers, and was 15 of 21 from the free-throw line.



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