- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Joe Chandler
Halifax County High School had a huge opportunity to knock off regular-season Western Valley District Champion Patrick Henry High School and lock up a third-place finish in the district standings here Monday night.
Thanks to inopportune turnovers, the Comets let the Patriots slide off of the hook and escape with a 71-66 win. As a result, the Comets will now have to play in a play-in game tonight to determine whether or not they will advance to Friday’s Western Valley District Tournament semifinals.
The Comets will travel to Franklin County High School tonight for a 7 p.m. game against the Eagles with a district tournament berth hanging in the balance. Tonight’s winner will travel to Roanoke Friday night to face Patrick Henry High School in one of the district’s two tournament semi-final games.
According to Halifax County High School Athletic Director Allen Lawter, if the Comets win tonight and advance to Friday’s tournament semifinal game, they will still have a shot at earning the district’s third berth in the expanded Northwest Region Tournament, even if they were to lose on Friday.
While the Comets’ district tournament hopes were still alive, there was still a great deal of disappointment in the Comets’ locker room after Monday night’s close Senior Night loss.
“If we had won tonight, we would have finished third and would have gone to William Fleming Friday night,” mused Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly.
“But, it is what it is. It’s not the game we wanted. We wanted to play on Friday. Now it’s a longer shot.
“We had an opportunity,” Epperly added.
“It’s a missed opportunity. We’ll just have to suck it up and go Wednesday and see what happens.”
The Comets and Franklin County High School split their pair of regular-season games, with the two teams winning by seven points on their respective home courts. Epperly says he expects tonight’s game to be another tough one.
“It’s a game that can go either way,” he pointed out.
“We’re evenly matched. It’s going to be a matter of which team wants it the most and does the little things, get the loose balls, rebounding, and the tough stuff.”
Halifax County High School had things going its way for much of the first half, and rolled up a 32-19 advantage with a pair of free throws from Dakota Delaware with 1:29 left in the first half.
Making a pair of layups off of steals in the last 40 seconds of the first half, PH cut the Comets’ lead to nine points at 32-23 at the break. Taking advantage of four straight Comets turnovers, PH went on an 8-0 run in the first minute and a half of the second half to cut the Comets’ lead to a single points at 32-31.
From there, it was a tough contest.
PH took the lead at 39-37 when Tray Crowder hit a layup off of a steal with 4:28 left in the third quarter. The lead swapped hands four times before the third quarter ended with the Comets leading 49-48.
Helped by Comets turnovers, PH went on a 14-0 run in the first four minutes and seven seconds of the fourth quarter to take a 62-49 lead. The Comets never recovered.
Led by Tavaras Hamlett, the Comets battled their way back into contention, closing to within five points at 66-61 with two free throws from Shaquille Ford with 1:20 left in the game.
That was as close as the Comets would get the rest of the way PH sank its free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Comets had 17 turnovers in the game, many of which proved costly.
“We lost the game at the end of the first half and the start of the second half,” Epperly pointed out.
“We turned the ball over three straight times at the end of the (first) half and they converted for scores. We just turned the ball over and they were able to convert. That was it.”
Patrick Henry High School used the long ball to aid its cause, hitting eight three-point shots. Marcus Banks hit eight of them on the way to a game-high 30-point night.
“There is an old saying in basketball – don’t let the other team’s best player beat you,” Epperly said.
“Once again their three-point shooters (B.J. Hamlett and Banks) made three-points shots on us. We just couldn’t do anything about it.”
The Comets were led in scoring by Ford Bradshaw with 19 points. Hamlett followed with 12 points and Dakota Delaware chipped in 11 points.