A valiant rally that saw Halifax County High School score six unanswered points in the last 45.5 seconds of the game including a game-winning layup from Jaden Waller off of a steal with 8.8 seconds left, lifted the Comets to a 59-58 win over arch-rival GW in Friday night's Piedmont District opener at GW High School in Danville.
Friday night's win marked the first win for a Comets boys basketball team at GW in almost four years. The last Halifax County High School win on GW's floor came on Feb. 12, 2015.
The win in the game that saw the Comets lead by as many as 14 points in the third quarter and trail by five points with 47 seconds left in the contest improved the Comets' record to 5-0 on the season. GW dropped to 5-3 overall with the loss.
"To battle back and battle through that adversity is amazing," Comets head coach Sterling Williams said with a smile.
"It feels really good. GW is always great. They are the defending state Class 4 champion. To come into this building and get a win is great."
The Comets had four players to reach double figures in the scoring column, with Kameron Roberts leading the team with 16 points, nine of which he tallied in the second half. Kevon Ferrell followed with 15 points and Waller chipped in 10 points, eight of which he scored in the second half. Davon Jennings also had 10 points in the contest.
Zach Carter followed with four points, and Keshawn Wells and Amos Jones scored two points each.
Halifax County High School led most of the game, building a game-high 14-point lead on a layup from Wells off of a steal with 4:53 left in the third quarter. With just under three-and-a-half minutes left in the game, GW rang up 11 unanswered points that included seven straight free throws, four of them coming from Taveon Walden when the Comets were cited for a shooting foul and a technical foul that was called on the Comets' bench.
That surge by the Eagles put GW up 58-53 with 47.4 seconds left in the game. Halifax County High School battled back, getting two of the points back with a pair of free throws from Waller with 45.5 seconds left. Forced to foul to attempt to get the ball back, the Comets fouled Walden, but Walden missed two free throws with 28 seconds left.
Ferrell hit two free throws for the Comets after being fouled with 22.2 seconds left in the game to get the Comets back to within a point at 58-57. Waller stole the ball from a GW player and sailed uncontested to a layup with 8.8 seconds left to give the Comets the lead at 59-58.
Good defense on the part of the Comets prevented GW from scoring on its final possession, as the Comets forced GW's Brad Price into an off-balance shot that bounced off of the rim of the basket as time ran out.
Waller said the last minute of the game was all about good defense.
"I knew I could trust my teammates that we could play good defense at the end of the game," Waller remarked.
"When I made that layup, I knew we were going to win the game."
Ferrell said the team did not panic, that the resolve was there to do what it took to get the job done.
"We just said we've got to give it everything we've got, good defense, rebounding, all of it," Ferrell noted.
Waller said the win is a big one for the team.
"It shows we are better than what we think we were," he pointed out.
"Beating GW is a real accomplishment for us after having lost to them three or four years in a row. It means a lot to us."
Halifax County High School led the game until GW made its late-game run to take the lead. The Comets led by as many as seven points in the first quarter and by as many as eight points in the second quarter, which ended with the Comets leading 28-20. Halifax County High School's lead surged to a high of 14 points in the third quarter, with the quarter ending with the Comets leading 46-36.
Over the next seven minutes, GW whittled away at the Comets' lead, surging to grab the lead late, only to lose it at the end.
Williams said the win is big for his team.
"The fashion in which the guys won, down five (points) with a minute to go, is huge," Williams pointed out.
"We felt like the first four games (of the season) the competition was not at the level of GW. We really wanted to see what we were going to be like when we had to face adversity. Our guys stayed composed, the composure was there, the poise was there. They never gave up. Hat's off to the guys for competing and diving on the floor for loose balls at the end of the game, doing whatever it took to come up with a win down the stretch."
GW had two players to reach double figures in the scoring column, with Wesley Graves leading the Eagles in scoring with 14 points. Donavan Howard followed with 10 points, eight of which he scored in the first quarter. Walden followed with nine points that included a 5-8 effort at the charity stripe.