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Sports

Comets play Person County tight, fall 73-63

SoVaNow.com / December 13, 2012
Halifax County High School got blown out the first time the Comets met a talented Person County team in varsity boys’ action earlier this season, playing in the Rockets’ gym.

On Tuesday night at home, the Comets almost stunned the Rockets.

Halifax matched Person almost step for step most of the way in the last meeting between the schools this season. HCHS faltered late, cooling off offensively, and the Rockets held on for a 73-63 win.

Tyrone Outlaw, headed to play for UNC-Greensboro next season, carried the Rockets, scoring 34 points. Outlaw had 13 points in the final period and proved the difference-maker.

The Comets, now 2-4 on the season, played arguably their best game of the season. Granted, you could make an argument for the season-opening win over E.C. Glass, but the Hilltoppers don’t have anyone like Outlaw and might not have as strong an overall team as the Rockets, either.

Outlaw, “did what he does. He was able to get to certain spots on the floor. We move him around. We’ll put him in the post, we’ll put him down in the corner, we’ll put him on the wing. Once he got to that wing, the guy was not ready, because he hadn’t been on that wing all night. He was able to catch and shoot it.”

HCHS had an amazing first period, showcasing both torrid early shooting and excellent defense. HCHS managed to hang around in the second and third periods, before the Rockets, now 6-1, finally pulled away in the final period.

Clearly, HCHS let an opportunity slip away.

Shooting woes plagued the Comets. Halifax started three-of-four from 3-point range, but finished three-of-16. The Comets were five-for-13 at the foul line. Halifax had 13 turnovers.

But Person also had to overcome some ragged basketball. The Rockets were five-for-eight from three-point range, and had a strong edge at the foul line, going 17-for-22. HCHS forced 19 Rocket turnovers, causing particular problems early.

Three Rockets finished in double figures, led by Outlaw. Logan Coats had 11 points and Marquis Torian added 15.

Keyshawn Johnson scored 15 points to lead the Comets, while Tavion Petty had 12, with ten of those coming in the first half. Kevon Tucker added ten points, all in the first half. Dakota Delaware scored eight, while Trelanne Johnson had some offensive bursts and added eight.

It all came down to the final period, which the Rockets won, 25-17. HCHS had battled to a 34-all tie at halftime and the Rockets led 48-46 at the end of three periods.

Johnson tied it at 48-all early in the fourth. Johnson got a drive and score, and a Rocket foul, to make a three-point play with 7:05 remaining. Halifax led, 51-48.

Neither team could get much separation, although Halifax did a good job beating the Rocket press and Johnson finished with a basket for a 53-49 Comet lead. Outlaw, however, tied it up moments later, at 55-all.

Person took the lead on a steal and layup from Torian, a nice complimentary part on this team. Torian got fouled on the play and completed the three-point play with 5:41 left.

T. Johnson got hit with an offensive foul with 5:26 remaining. Coats, who had five points in the final period and also adds versatility to the Rocket squad, connected on a key jumper with 5:04 left.

T. Johnson drew a Rocket blocking foul, and made one of two free throws, as the Comets trailed, 60-56, with 4:59 left.

But Outlaw connected again, as the Rocket lead grew to six, 62-56, with 4:43 left.

“When it got tight, and he had his open looks, he didn’t force anything,” said Dacus. “He just caught the ball and shot it, which is one of his specialities. He knocked down (two) threes there late in the fourth quarter and really kind of separated the game out for us.”

HCHS missed some opportunities at this point, and Devin Scoggins sank his only basket of the second half down low for a 64-56 Rocket lead.

The Comets went cold from the field, at the worst time, and had a couple of costly turnovers, too. But Halifax battled down the stretch, as Delaware had a terrific follow shot off the offensive glass to cut the Rocket lead to three with 1:55 left.

Person also did the job on the line in the closing stages, finishing nine-fror-12 at the foul line in the final period. Torian connected on two important free throws to make it 66-61 with 1:20 left in the game.

Halifax misfired, and Outlaw, unguardable in the fourth, slammed a dunk home with 57 seconds left to lift Person to a 68-61 advantage.

Person’s Jerry Smith later hit two key free throws with 35.5 seconds left for a 70-63 lead.

The Rockets slowed the Comets significantly in the final period. HCHS had only seven points in the final 4:43. The Rockets also put more pressure on HCHS’ ability to connect from three-point range as the game progressed.

“We put more pressure on the basketball and the passers. We needed to put more pressure on the shooters and make them attack the basket. We really thought if we could run them off the 3-point line it would be to our benefit,” said Dacus.

“We just really turned up our defensive pressure, the way we should have been playing the whole game,” said Dacus.

HCHS had played very well earlier, especially in the first period. HCHS showed tremendous intensity on defense, and bolted to a stunning 21-9 lead on a three-pointer from Kevon Tucker with 1:39 left in the first period. HCHS connected on three treys in the first period alone, and outscored the Rockets, 23-17.

But HCHS slacked off defensively for a moment, and Outlaw drained a dramatic 3-pointer from beyond the halfcourt line, banking in a three-pointer to cut the Comet lead to 23-17.

It was that kind of night for the Rocket standout.

Outlaw ultimately proved way too much for Halifax to handle. But the Comets can look at this effort with pride, and HCHS, which has to travel to Martinsville tomorrow, ought to be able to build on this sometimes sparkling performance.

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