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Getting it done

SoVaNow.com / February 19, 2009
By Tucker McLaughlin Jr.
News & Record staff
ROANOKE, Va. – An elated group of Lady Comets celebrated a memorable 62-56 first round Western Valley District tournament playoff win here over William Fleming Monday night.
The Comets, who moved on to the district tournament semifinals last night against top-seeded Franklin County, showed flashes of very solid defense in the win over the Colonels. HCHS also refused to be denied in key situations.

Essentially, this talented and athletic team – most of whom return next season – finally learned how to win, overcoming late game breakdowns.

HCHS entered the Western Valley postseason event as the tournament five seed, but anyone who had watched this club knew these Comets could be much better than their 2-8 district regular season record suggested.

Halifax looked like a dangerous team heading into the playoffs. The Comets proved that here, winning in quarterfinal action against a Fleming team that swept Halifax in the regular season.

HCHS advanced to the tournament semifinals last night against a potent FCHS team, which has already secured a regional berth. Halifax was playing to keep its season alive last night in a tough environment.

Tiffany Wilson had a terrific game on both ends of the floor and led the Comet girls with 15 points, including three-of-four shooting from the foul line. And she had help, as four Comets finished in double figures.

Nia Brown provided a major presence down low, scoring 12 points. Miyisha Younger also had some timely offensive and had 11 points. Whitney McCargo provided some key offensive bursts and had 10 points.

HCHS also got a quality defensive outing from senior Aaron Hodge, who helped keep Fleming in check with solid rebounding.

Fleming finished with three players in double figures, led by Tiasha McGeorge with 18 points. Tahiana Pack and Salesse Stovall had 12 apiece, but none of these Colonels had game-changing performances Monday.

Halifax won the critical fourth period, outscoring the Colonels 20-18.

Halifax got early momentum in the fourth, extending the lead to 45-39 on a nifty assist from Wilson to Younger with 7:15 left.

Fleming later drew within four, but HCHS later forced a turnover and N. Brown scored inside for a 47-41 Comet lead. Brown was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw.
HCHS nursed a narrow lead until Fleming pulled within two, 47-45, with 4:44 remaining.

N. Brown, however, answered with strong offensive play inside, as she got fouled and hit both charity shots with 4:32 left.

N. Brown continued to be a force down low, leading the Comets to a 53-47 lead as anticipation started to build on the HCHS bench.

Fleming, however, did not go quietly. The Colonels drew within two and N. Brown fouled out with 2:51 left in the game.

Wilson answered with a key drive and a basket to give HCHS a five-point lead, 55-50. After Halifax got a defensive stop, Miyisha Younger drained a basket after a Comet miss for a 57-50 lead.
Fleming later managed to pull within four, at the 1:36 mark, with plenty of drama on the Comet faces.

Halifax struggled in the closing minute to beat the Fleming press, but HCHS got a huge break when Fleming’s Jazmine Hill got called for an intentional foul for grabbing M. Younger as she was scoring a basket with 54.4 seconds left. She added one of two free throws for a 59-54 Comet lead.

Halifax retained possession after the intentional foul, and M. Younger added one more free throw for a 60-54 lead. After a Fleming miss, McCargo added the final Comet basket on a layup for a 62-54 lead with about 30 seconds left. Fleming added a meaningless final basket, giving Halifax a six-point win.

The celebrations were already starting on the Comet bench with the clock winding down, as this girls’ program finally showed the kind of potential that had been there all along this season.
Halifax, bolstered by five points from McCargo and Wilson, led 14-9 at the end of the first period.

Lauren Daniel extended the lead to 16-9 with a basket on the wing early in the second period, and Mylese Brown added a free throw for a 17-9 Comet lead with 7:12 left before halftime.
Moments later, M. Brown penetrated and banked a shot home for a 19-9 Comet lead.

But Fleming clawed back, helped by a three-pointer from Pack that cut the Comet advantage to five, 20-15.

Halifax had some late mistakes and Fleming made a late run, grabbing a 31-28 lead at the half.

Both teams got out to a ragged start in the third, but Pack gave Fleming a five-point edge, 33-28.

But the Comets battled back within one point, showing hustle on both ends of the court. Fleming lost a player, Jasmyn Saunders, with 4:45 left in the third, to injury. Wilson then stepped up and drained a jumper for a 34-33.

Comet lead with about four minutes left in the third period.

N. Brown later added two free throws, as she was active down low. Wilson sank a jumper for a 38-33 lead with the third period winding down.

Wilson later scored on a strong move past the Fleming defense for a 40-35 Comet lead. Fleming later drew within two, at 40-38, but Stephanie Carr sank a layup for a 42-38 Comet lead, and that’s where it stood heading into the final quarter.

HCHS failed to close the deal most of the time in regular season district play, but the Comets got it done here, ending Fleming’s season. HCHS was hoping to pull a memorable upset last night and advance to tomorrow’s WVD tournament title game.

Lady Comets pull out first round win

By Tucker McLaughlin Jr.
News & Record staff
The fourth quarter proved critical for the Comet girls’ varsity basketball team in its district tournament quarterfinals win over William Fleming Monday night.
HCHS coach Matt McCargo noted, “We made a lot of mistakes, but we made enough positive things happen that we could get the win tonight. They continued to play hard, even though we lost valuable players down in the last few minutes.”

McCargo had some issues with the officiating, but HCHS played through any possible controversy, showing poise and tenacity down the stretch. And the officials also made some calls against Fleming that drew the ire of the Colonels’ bench.

It’s also time for some perspective here.

McCargo, in his first season as head coach, led the varsity girl Comets past the first round of the WVD tournament. Advancing in this tournament was one of the Comet goals before the season started back in November.

HCHS (11-11 overall) had a high confidence level even before this win, although the Comets had a tough road game at Franklin County last night.

HCHS sparkplug Tiffany Wilson showed her versatility, on offense and defense. And Wilson also presented a matchup problem for the Colonels. Wilson had to guard Fleming’s Salesse Stovall, which meant the Colonel had to guard the fleet-footed no. 22 for Halifax.

“Tiffany, by nature, is a three or two guard and Stovall was a five. That gave her an advantage and a lot of times, Tiffany, by being in the game and attacking the rim, caused them to have to take her (Stovall) out when they didn’t want to. So whenever they went small, we went small,” said McCargo.

Wilson, who had a complete game here, expressed confidence that the Comets could win the WVD tournament quarterfinal.

Wilson kept the Comets together on the road with a complete effort. She provided key intangible leadership.

McCargo also used some trick defenses, going man on Fleming’s Tahiana Pack and Stovall inside, while using zone on other Colonels. That worked very well for the HCHS.
HCHS got strong games inside from two of its ‘bigs’.

Nia Brown had some early mistakes, but finished strong with big baskets and key rebounds down the stretch.

“I definitely wanted to win,” said Brown. “I took it to the hole strong, and I made my free throws tonight.

“It feels so good to have this win. It’s about time,” said Brown. “We are better than what everybody thinks we are.”

And Aaron Hodge stepped up for HCHS as well, according to McCargo.

“Aaron Moreno Hodge kept us in the game with huge blocked shots, big rebounds in the first and second quarter when we got some early foul trouble,” said McCargo.
Hodge showed good aggressiveness on the boards and added two points in the first period. HCHS had to go without Destiny Betts, out with an injury.

“I was doing what Coach told me to, come out and try my best,” said Hodge, who said this was her best game. “It’s the best feeling I could ever have,”said Hodge.
Fleming coach Ronald Hubbard made no excuses.

“They got some of our major players in foul trouble that made us have to alternate, make a few lineup changes. And they (HCHS) were gritty, can’t take anything away from them. (HCHS) knew what was on the line, and they went after it, and they kept playing hard the entire game.

“Give them all the credit, that’s what (HCHS) deserved …. They hustled a lot harder than us. If we would (have) hustled hard, we would have won the game….(Halifax) hustled two to three times harder than us, they went after every loose ball on the floor. They drove with aggression and they did everything they wanted to do, because they played harder than us,” said Hubbard.



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