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Comets one game away from state tournament

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Top, Michael Spraggins battles through a doubleteam to get to the basket. Above, Tyree Dunkley and Kendall Dixon trap a Fleming player near the Comet bench. (David Conner II photos) / February 21, 2019

One opponent - a talented North Stafford squad - now stands between the Halifax County High School varsity boys’ basketball team and the program’s first trip to the state tournament since 1975.

Halifax carried an explosive early start to a 86-78 win in regional quarterfinals action Tuesday at home over William Fleming, which had a partially depleted lineup.

The Comets, 19-5, have reached the Class 5 D regional semifinals.

Halifax will host North Stafford Thursday at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the regional finals Saturday night. The Comets will play at home again in they win tonight.

But North Stafford has a formidable team, and, generally speaking, regional semifinal tests have not been kind to the Comets. The Wolverines have a major threat in Commonwealth District player of the year Javon Swinton, who dropped 32 points on a favored no. 1 seed, Stafford, Tuesday in regional quarterfinals action.

North Stafford, now 13-11, upset Stafford, 55-43.

Halifax got to the regional semifinals with five players in double figures, it’s most balanced scoring of the season. Kendall Dixon had arguably his best game this season, with 24 points. Michael Spraggins bounced back and scored 18. Tyree Dunkley had 16 and Kevon Ferrell added 11.

MyQuan Williams had 10.

Fleming saw its season end. The Colonels had 13 each from Don Goode and Jalen Hale.

Fleming had the edge from 3-point land, connecting on six of 21, while Halifax went just three of 13. But the Comets had four less turnovers - 10, compared to 14 for Fleming.

But the Comets had an advantage at the foul line, even as the visitors fouled repeatedly down the stretch to try to cut into the lead. The Colonels never led Tuesday night.

Halifax went 27-of-42 from the foul line, including a pressure packed 14 of 20 line in the final period. Fleming went 21-of-34.

Williams really made an impact in the final period, sinking six straight free throws.

Comet coach Sterling Williams enjoyed the buzz created by this win. The Comets are only 32 minutes away from a major milestone in the program history.

“We got off to a really good start. We were able to run our stuff and get the shots we wanted to get. Able to get the ball inside to Michael and get him going.

“He kind of had not been himself the last two games but he got off to a good start for us. We kind of rolled from there,” said Williams.

Halifax also carried itself well in a very physical contest.

Williams expected Fleming to be physical, and the Comets responded. “We tried to simulate their physicality in practice this week.

“You’ve got to be able to play through the contact, and I thought we did that,” said Williams.

Williams also pointed to the Comets’ rebounding acumen, except late, and solid defense. Halifax also had a solid transition game with good ball movement.

Halifax also played hard, wire-to-wire, and even as Fleming basically went toe-to-toe with Halifax after a messy first period.

Halifax led 18-11 after the first period. The Colonels were even afterwards.

Foul trouble plagued both clubs. Two Comets, Otis Slayton and Dunkley, fouled out. Slayton scored four points and added solid defense. Fleming lost three players, including Goode.

Halifax also played together and had smart basketball, with solid ball sharing.

“They were missing their best playing. We were just trying to stay humble,” said Williams. “The guys are eager to play.”

The teams remaining in the regional are North Stafford against Halifax, and Potomac meeting Patrick Henry-Roanoke.

The winners meet Saturday night in the last Class 5D regional semifinals.

Halifax will move to Class 4 action in August.

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