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Comets ready to take positive steps

South Boston News
Members of the HCHS varsity boys basketball team are, from left, first row, James Smith Jr., Keyshawn Johnson, Treyvon Brandon, Trelanne Johnson, Tevin Edmunds. Back row, from left, manager Jawon Jackson, players Justin Williams, James Burden, Will Miller, Ramel Hill, Ricky Tucker, Tavion Petty, Kevon Tucker, Quentin Jennings and manager Justin Fuller. (Blakely Swanson photo)
SoVaNow.com / November 26, 2013


Larry Epperly is starting his third season at the helm of the Halifax County High School varsity boys’ basketball program, and there may be evidence to suggest these Comets could take some major positive forward steps.

Epperly is 18-24 at HCHS through the first two seasons, and, of course, HCHS has a new district (the Piedmont), followed by conference postseason competition. Halifax is paired with Orange, Albemarle, and Patrick Henry-Ashland, and two of those teams earn berths in the new 5-A regional alignment.

“It’s always true you need a strong foundation. We’ve tried to always do the right things and stress fundamentals, defense. It takes time to build a program. It’s not something that happens overnight. You have to get kids to work and believe and trust and all those kinds of things, and it’s not done easy.

“We’re making progress. We really have, we’ve had a pretty good preseason, done some conditioning things that I think are going to pay off. We have a team this year, that it’s best strength is 3-point shooting,” he said.

“We really have some good 3-point shooters. We’re playing a lot of pick and roll basketball, trying to get our guards freed up so they can make plays and kick out to the shooters,” said Epperly.

Epperly is not one of these overly flashy coaches living for 100-95 style basketball. The man is about fundamentals, hard work, discipline and defense first. He’s a team-first type of guy.

“Defensively, I think we’re better,” said Epperly, who has recorded back to back 9-12 seasons at Halifax County.

There are two goals heading into next Tuesday’s season opener against Person County High School, which will have the advantage of an earlier start to the season.

The Comets want to reduce turnovers, Epperly said.

“Those turnovers almost always ended up in easy baskets on the other end. So if we take care of one, it’s probably going to take care of the other end. “We’ve been stressing blocking out, defense, because we’re playing small ball. We’re spreading the court, and trying to take advantage of what we have, and that’s penetration and 3-point shooting.”

There are some basketball observers who bluntly suggest teams like HCHS cannot win big because of a lack of size. Certainly, having enforcers and bigs in the paint is a positive, but there are ways for smaller basketball teams to play successfully.

“We know its possible to win with what we have. You’ve got to do certain things. You’ve got to trap the post. You’ve got to switch. You’ve got to be disruptive for defenses. The game’s changed so much. That’s probably the biggest thing that’s changed. It used to be you played with a center or two centers. Now teams play without any centers and it’s a wide open floor game.

“That’s probably where we are. We have one big kid (senior center Ricky Tucker, now 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds). He’s a low-block player,” said Epperly.

Will Miller (a a lanky 6-5 sophomore forward) is a perimeter player, Epperly said.

“We only have one low-block player. When (Tucker) gets in there, he’s pretty strong down there. He’s making progress. He’s got a ways to go, because he didn’t get out until (Nov. 11), but we’ve seen progress,” said Epperly.

HCHS schedule - Person, Dec. 3, home; Heritage, Dec. 4, home; Martinsville, Dec. 10, home; Franklin County, Dec. 13, away; Person, Dec. 14, away; Tunstall, Dec. 17, away; Magna Vista, Dec. 20, home; Roxboro Community School, Dec. 21, home; Halifax Holiday Classic Dec. 27 and 28: Bassett, away, Jan. 3; GW-Danville, Jan. 7, away; Heritage, Jan. 8, away; Patrick County, Jan. 10, home; Martinsville, Jan. 15, away; Franklin County, Jan. 17, home. Tunstall, Jan. 21, home; Magna Vista, Jan. 24, away; Gretna (varsity only), Jan. 25, home; Bassett, Jan. 28, home; GW-Danville, Jan. 31, home; Patrick County, Feb. 4, away.

Postseason - Piedmont district tournament; Conference 16 semifinals (Feb. 19) and Conference 16 finals (Feb. 21); If HCHS qualifies, 5-A North Regional play, Feb. 24-March 1.

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