I spent all of last week driving to GW, Pulaski and finally to Blacksburg following the Halifax County High School boys basketball team in their quest for a third straight state tournament appearance.
After Monday’s somewhat easy win over GW, I felt really good about their chances to achieve that goal.
But then came their Wednesday afternoon game at Pulaski. The Cougars came to play and their game plan nearly worked, as they packed the paint in their zone defense and slowed the game down against the athletic Comets.
But there was no quit in Halifax. They never got down on themselves, and they continued to fight. Even after Kevon Ferrell and Keshawn Wells fouled out in the overtimes, players like D.J. Jennings, Jaden Waller, Nijay Ross and Adam Palmer stepped up to keep the Comets in the game.
I left out Kameron Roberts in that list because Roberts deserves a paragraph all to himself. He scored 36 points in the win over Pulaski and another 16 in the regional title game against Blacksburg. He took over both games at the end, and no double team or triple team could stop him when he drove to the basket.
Roberts is a special talent. He is a quiet, humble player that does his job on and off the court. His 6’5 frame allows him to be a force on the inside, and he has three-point range as well. His moves to the basket were crisp and no amount of defenders was going to stop him when he got it in his head that he was going to the hoop.
This could very well be the last couple of games Roberts plays as a Comet, as his talent and potential make him a very hot commodity in the prep school community. Roberts already turned down offers to play at a prep school after his freshman year and in an interview with Roberts and his mother over the summer, they said they would sit down and make the decision when the time came.
I am already living in Raleigh, but I told The Gazette that I would follow the Comets on their run to a state title before I finished up at the paper. I am glad that I made that decision, because following them on their journey last week was so gratifying.
Each player brings a unique part of their game to the team; there are no superstars who take the spotlight, even those like Roberts and Ferrell who could be one. They all have their roles, and they play them near perfection. Players like Ross and Waller have come off the bench and made big plays to help their team keep winning.
I have yet to see them hang their heads or try and place blame on one another, even when going down double digits to Pulaski, or when the game was in the fourth or fifth overtime that same game.
Williams and his staff know these kids like their own. They can communicate to them on another level, and those types of relationships are what make a team great.
I hope that there are two more games for me to cover instead of one, and that their state championship win will be my final game I cover for The Gazette. This team, their coaches, fans and community deserve that. I hope we all get to celebrate that together come Saturday night.