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Repeat performance

South Boston News
Davon Jennings goes up for the dunk against Millbrook Friday in the state tournament quarterfinal in Lynchburg. (David Conner II photo) / March 09, 2020

The Halifax County High School varsity boys basketball team fell to Millbrook High School 61-58 in the VHSL Class-4 state quarterfinals Friday at at Heritage High School in Lynchburg. on Friday night and lost 61-58 in the quarterfinals of the VHSL Class-4 State Basketball Tournament.

The loss ended the Comets’s season with a 22-5 record.

It was the second time in as many years the Comets dropped the state quarterfinal game; losing in the contest last year.

“We’ve just got to find a way of getting over this hump,” Halifax coach Sterling Williams said after the game.

Yet, at the same time Williams acknowledged all the young team had done to have the opportunity once again to battle for the right to advance to the VHSL quarterfinals which featured a group of eight teams.

Halifax opened the game in great form Keshawn Wells getting nothing but nylon on the trey for the 3-0 lead. Halifax would take that to 5-1 – the deuce coming on a Kameron Roberts dunk - before the Pioneers settled in and began to play their game.

Where Halifax was the Region 4D Champion, Millbrook was the runner up in their region final losing to Loudon County. Millbrook would have no part of that on Friday night.

The visitors went on an 8-4 run and soon had the game knotted at 9-9. Millbrook had a hot hand with three-pointers in the first period draining five, the last nine points of the quarter attributed to their long-range abilities.

But a good amount of the points the Pioneers hit in the first round were simply uncontested shots by the Comets. Even when Millbrook missed a shot early in the game it just seemed as though the Comets were slow to react on the boards.

Wells and Kevon Ferrell each had three points in the opening stanza. The Comets were three-of-three at the stripe during the period, Ty’Shawn Medley sinking two of the three.

Millbrook had four baskets from behind the arc in the first period and would go on to post 24 points in treys over the course of the first half. Halifax was down 21-12 as the first quarter ended.

Wells headed the scoring to start the second period with another deep three-pointer. Following a 9-5 run by Millbrook, Wells again drained a three to cut the Comet deficit to 30-20.

The Pioneers soon increased their lead to 13 points.

Davon Jennings posted a deuce; teammate Zach Carter knocked down a couple of foul shots. Carter then got the basket and one, while Ferrell had the last two points of the period from the foul line to close out before halftime. Halifax having narrowed Millbrook’s lead to 39-31.

Taralle Hayden paced Millbrook in the half with 12-points, finishing with 14 on the night. Julien Hagerman had 10-points and headed all players on the night scoring a game-high 17-points.

Halifax started the third with a 5-0 run, headed by a Jhamad Lawson three and a Roberts’ deuce. Halifax cut the score to 43-38 when Jennings had a monster dunk on a push to the goal over the Millbrook defender and he would follow that with a basket.

Millbrook moved out to the 47-40 lead. Halifax would go on a 7-0 run to end the quarter. Ferrell drilled the trey, while Roberts hit two points at the line after a technical foul was called on Millbrook’s Hayden for hanging on the rim after a missed alley-hoop attempt. Roberts ended the game with 13-points, pacing Halifax with nine second-half points.

With 30 seconds remaining in the period the Comets’ Jaden Waller popped the deuce to knot the score at 47-47. Halifax held off Millbrook to preserve the tie going to the final period.

“We just played much better defensively,” Williams said about the third quarter. “We closed out on the shooters better, we were there when they caught the ball. We did a better job of keeping them out of the lane.” These efforts continued throughout the fourth period where the game would come down to the wire.

With approximately 6:00 in the period Ferrell hit a basket; about a minute later Roberts added a three-pointer to open with a 5-0 run.

The teams would exchange baskets, the Comets’ basket coming off of another Jennings’ dunk.

Still, much to Millbrook’s credit, the senior-laden team remained calm, came down the court and sank two three-pointers to take the lead at 55-54.

With 1:45 the Comets would get their final lead of the game at 56-55 when Wells sank a basket. Millbrook responded with its own baseline alley-hoop and followed that up with Tyson Stewart knocking down two-critical shots on a one-and one to push the Pioneers ahead 59-56.

Not giving up, Ferrell was fouled as he pushed the ball down the center of the lane on the Millbrook defender – he would go on to sink both shots to climb back to within one at 59-58 with 5.5 seconds on the clock.

Halifax would take the time out and foul Millbrook on the inbound where they again connected on both shots. With 4.9 seconds left Halifax would have one last opportunity to tie the game and send it to overtime.

While attempting to set up the three-point corner shot, Ferrell’s foot touched the out-of-bounds line for the Comets turnover. Millbrook would hold on to secure the 61-58 win and earn the trip to the semi-finals.

Millbrook coach Steve Grubbs said he was proud of the way his team played through adversity and weathered the rally Halifax’ put up in the second half to advance to the semifinals. ”You can expect them to comeback, they’re here for a reason,” he said.

Williams said the Comets’ just gave up too many scoring opportunities to the Pioneers in the first half.

“In the first half we just gave up too many points, 39-points in the first half and just too many,” Williams noted. “We had to fight and claw pretty much the whole game and when you’re doing that against good teams ...”

Williams said even with all those factors he was proud of the way his guys determined not to give up in the game.

“We were right there. We got all the way back and took the lead; just a couple of possessions away. We just turned the ball over a couple times down the stretch and defensively [were] just a couple of possessions away.”

The loss brings another great season to an end for the Comets. Halifax finished the season as Piedmont District Tournament runner-up and Region 4D champions.

With the win Millbrook moves on to face Woodrow Wilson who defeated Courtland 67-61 on Friday.

The other Class-4 semifinal matchup will be GW against King’s Court. GW defeated Loudon County 63-55 on Friday night. King’s Court took down Monacan on 66-62 to advance.

Halifax: J. Waller 2, J. Lawson 3, K. Wells 11, K. Roberts 13, K. Ferrell 14, T. Medley 2, D. Jennings 8, Z. Carter 5.

Millbrook: T. Hayden 14, J. Jackson 5, B. Oates 3, T. Stewart 11, M. Buza 3, T. Spain 4, J. Hagerman 17, M. Robertson 4.

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