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Comets surprise Glass; win opener

South Boston News / November 29, 2012
Halifax County High School varsity boys hoops put together a solid winning combination in its 65-52 win over visiting E.C. Glass in the Comet season opener Tuesday night.

HCHS frequently forced inconsistency for the Glass offense, causing 22 turnovers, often leading to high-percentage shots. The Comets shot very well from the field, including seven-of-15 marksmanship from three-point land. HCHS, starting the second year of the Larry Epperly era, drained 10-of-15 free throws, sparked by an eight-for-eight performance in the fourth period from Keyshawn Johnson.

And Comet sophomore guard Tavion Petty drove the Hilltoppers batty, dialing up 25 points. Johnson contributed 13 points.

HCHS also did a commendable job containing Glass big man Karl Overstreet, who still led the visitors with 14 points.

Halifax built a small early lead, and kept on building its momentum. Glass spent most of the final period desperately chasing Halifax and trying to reverse a Comet surge, but no such comeback occurred.

HCHS showcased quality zone defense.

“We won with defense and rebounding. Our defense at times was very, very good. We got some steals out of it. We executed the way we like to. Our guys played with effort and energy. I thought we played together,” Epperly said.

“A good first night.”

HCHS shot well. “That’s what Tavion does. He’s a shotmaker. I thought the key, though, was Keyshawn making free throws at the end. When you make your free throws at the end, that puts a lot of pressure on the other team, because all those fouls start adding up. “You have to make your free throws at the end,” said Epperly.

The Comets certainly had some ragged moments of their own, as HCHS finished with 22 turnovers. Halifax was a tad impatient.

“The (Comet) turnovers, we’re still trying to address that. We still turn it over too much, and most of them lead to easy baskets. We have some work to do, but we’ve got something to work with. We’ve got two sophomores out there all the time (Petty and K. Johnson),” said Epperly.

Glass coach Roy Roberson expressed frustration.

“I think it’s very early in the season. ... Our effort was disappointing,” said the Glass coach. “We’re much better than we showed tonight.

“We’re surprised the (Halifax) zone stifled us as much as it did. For some reason, I don’t think we were prepared to play. I don’t know if we had a belief that we’re better. I tried to express to our team you can’t come in somebody else’s gym and not play your best and expect to win. 22 turnovers against a zone defense is just beyond my comprehension,” said Roberson.

“The (Comet) zone made us play slow, lazy and lethargic. Compliments to Halifax,” said Roberson.

Both teams had 22 turnovers, as Halifax certainly had some forgettable moments rushing the ball. But Glass, as the visitors, had a tougher task trying to establish momentum and offensive cohesion. It didn’t happen for the Hilltoppers.

Halifax led 15-8 at the end of the first period, but the teams played a very competitive second period, with Glass winning that stanza, 12-10. At halftime, HCHS owned a 25-20 edge.

Both teams picked up the offensive intensity in third, but Halifax outscored Glass, 21-16. Petty had an excellent third period, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and scoring ten points. Kevon Tucker also hit from bonusland one and had five points, and K. Johnson had a three-pointer.

HCHS forced a turnover and got a crisp layup from Petty for a 30-20 lead. Glass later cut the lead to seven, but Petty was back to extend the margin to ten, 36-26.

Glass later cut the margin to four, 38-34, but Petty showed a silky move and scored to extend the lead to 40-34.

K. Johnson connected on the wing, and Halifax led 43-34.

The Comets led by ten, 46-36, at the end of the third.

Both teams made some mistakes in the final period, but the Comets showed admirable hustle. Evin Morrison showed his grit by diving to the floor to force an early fourth quarter tie-up, although Glass kept possession. Glass had its moments - Overstreet caught a pass and connected on a flying dunk to cut the Comet lead to six - but Petty penetrated and drew a foul, completing a three-point play with 6:31 left. The Comets led 49-40 at that point.

Thanks to very solid fourth quarter foul shooting, HCHS was able to hold on to a steady lead most of the final period. HCHS led, 53-43 at the 4:55 point. It was 55-45 with 3:06 remaining, and so on.

Halifax went 9-for-11 in the final period. Along with Johnson, Petty hit his lone free throw.

Halifax led by nine, 59-50, and then Johnson hit a pair of free throws to give the Comets a 61-50 lead with 1:16 remaining.

There were other positives, including hard work in a blue collar way by Halifax big Morrison.

“I thought Evin had a real solid game. He was a big body against Overstreet in there. He rebounded, played solid defense. The only thing that we’ve still got to work on, is we had penetrations and the ball was dumped on him and he wasn’t ready for it, and he fumbled it.

“He’s got to get his hands ready, because he’s going to have those opportunities. Keyshawn can penetrate, and he’s a good passer, so they’ve got to be ready,” said Epperly.

Morrison provided very solid defense on Glass ‘big’ Karl Overstreet, who had only two points at the half. Overstreet scored 12 points after halftime, but never took over the game.

Morrison said, “he’s a big guy, but I think our team overall contained him pretty well.”

Morrison, a senior, could be a huge help for the Comets this season, especially if he can improve his overall game.

“I just try to play as hard as I can. As soon as (Overstreet) caught the ball, I tried to pressure him (and) ... play good defense,” he said.

But turnovers by the Comets represented Epperly biggest concern from the opener.

“We got outrebounded a couple of times, but that’s when we were small, when we had Dakota (Delaware) at center. That’s going to happen,” said Epperly.

HCHS also got a brief look at another big, Kory Lennon, who has some size down low. Lennon had one made free throw, but he had some positive moments.

“He did. His conditioning still has to get better. He’s got to get in the right spots,” said Epperly of the sophomore.

Petty is playing his second season of Comet varsity hoops, and caught fire against Glass.

“Mostly team,” said Petty, more than willing to share the credit.

“Keyshawn Johnson, dishing the pill, getting me open, coming off screens. It’s all about the team.”

Petty said, “We got a quality win. We showed couple of weaknesses, a couple of strong (points). We’ve still got to take care of the ball more, and rebounding. That’s basically our weak point right about now.”

Halifax has a tough assignment Friday, with a trip to Person County. The Rockets have state tournament aspirations and feature Tyrone Outlaw, a UNC-Greensboro pledge.

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