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Comets seek improvement

SoVaNow.com / February 07, 2013
Comet varsity boys’ basketball coach Larry Epperly, reviewing the HCHS season, noted the squad had some young players who have room to grow, just as the Western Valley District was very strong overall this winter.

The Comets (9-12, 1-7 in the WVD), coming off a second straight losing season under Epperly, have seven returnees for next year’s varsity.

“We had guys who had never played varsity this year,” noted the coach. “We didn’t have a lot of carryover from the year before, and it was like starting all over again.”

There’s a strong base returning to the varsity next year, and he’s excited about some other players in the program. He hopes for a turnaround, noting, “sometimes it takes three years to get (the program) where you want it to be.”

Nine wins, the high-water mark for this year’s team, isn’t where Epperly wants to be.

“We’re not discouraged ... sometimes you’ve got to learn before you can win.”

He wants the players to get bigger and stronger, and there are other issues that need to be straightened out in the program.

The Comets missed the Western Valley district tournament altogether, with a fifth-place WVD finish. But Epperly argued HCHS had made progress.

“We made a lot of progress in a lot of ways. The wins aren’t there, but we made a lot of progress in a lot of areas,” said the veteran coach, who has instilled discipline and a solid sense of basketball fundamentals among the players.

The Comets had improved discipline among the team, noting there were no incidents with this team. Epperly wants good players who are academically eligible and able to stay out of trouble in school.

The Comets likely need more size and bulk on the court, as HCHS essentially had to go small this season in a league with considerable athleticism.

“We do need more size. We’ve got to get bigger, we’ve got to get stronger, somehow. We played with 6-foot-1 and 6-0 forwards, and we were just outmatched almost every game. That is a concern.

“We’re going to try to have a really good off-season weight training program, but as far as size goes, we don’t have a lot of control over that,” said Epperly.

The seven returnees expected are Tavion Petty, Keyshawn Johnson, James Burden, Kevon Tucker, Justin Williams, Tevin Edmunds and Trelanne Johnson.

All of them got experience, and four started (Petty, K. Johnson, Burden and T. Johnson). Kevon Tucker started two games as he alternated in the starting lineup.

HCHS also has high hopes for jayvee players Will Miller and Kory Lennon. Epperly said Nick Jones is a good prospect coming up from the jayvee. Quentin Jennings is expected up from jayvee.

Epperly said the Comets will be better next year.

“We’re short of skill and talent. Those are things we’ve got to work on in the off-season,” said Epperly. The Comets have had issues with ball security the last two years, allowing too many points off turnovers, and the HCHS squads are just not there fundamentally yet.

“We’re just not there fundamentally. We’ve just got to get these kids when they’re young, and teach them the right way to play. And hopefully, by the time they get to the varsity, they’re already drilled in certain fundamentals,” said Epperly.

HCHS also has changes coming next year, as they move from the Western Valley to the Piedmont district, with GW-Danville and Franklin County coming with the Comets.

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