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Comets’ Skid Continues

You get a limited number of opportunities to win basketball games, especially when it comes to playing on the road. Halifax County had its share of opportunities come its way in Thursday’s game against William Fleming High School in Roanoke. But, the Comets didn’t take advantage of them.

William Fleming scored its only Western Valley District win of the season Thursday night, holding off a late run by the Comets to take a 58-53 victory.
“We should have never lost this game,” remarked Comets head coach Lynn Ramage.

“One thing I will say is that our kids never quit. I’m happy with the fact that we never quit. But it should have never gotten to that point with this team.”

The loss was the third straight loss the Comets have taken at the hands of Western Valley District opponents after having started district play by winning three of their first four district contests.

It was also the fourth loss in a row for the Comets (11-8 overall, 3-4 district).

The loss now puts the Comets in a tie for third place with Franklin County High School. Halifax County High School will host Franklin County (11-8 overall, 3-4 district) Tuesday night in the final regular-season game for both teams.

If Halifax County wins Tuesday night, it will gain the third seed for the Western Valley District Tournament and will face second-place GW in Danville in the first round of the district tournament later this week.

A loss will drop the Comets to fourth place and will put them in a situation where they will travel to Roanoke to face regular-season champion Patrick Henry High School in the first round of the tournament.

By virtue of having won the regular-season title, Patrick Henry has secured the district’s top seed for the Northwest Region Tournament.

The story for the Comets Thursday night was one that has played out in some previous games, an inability to make free throws and an inability to take advantage of opportunities.

Halifax County’s biggest woe was that it hit only six of 16 attempts from the free throw line in the second half. And, when Comets’ players gambled on defense, William Fleming guards Miles Henderson and Chris Whitfield made the Comets pay by nailing four three-point shots in the fourth quarter.
“We were gambled a lot of times when we were supposed to stay solid,” Ramage pointed out.

“They (Comets players) gambled too much. You can’t gamble against a good team that can shoot like that.

“They gave us every opportunity to win this game and we didn’t take advantage of it,” added Ramage.

“You’ve got to make free throws, especially on the road. Good teams make the shots you’re supposed to make.”

The Comets played a good first half and led 20-17 at halftime. Halifax County built its lead to five points on a dunk by Deshon Dabbs, who led the Comets with 25 points, with 4:22 left in the quarter.

Things went downhill after that.

Halifax County scored only one point in the last three and a half minutes of the third quarter, that coming on a free throw by Shaquan Bailey. In the meantime, William Fleming got its shooting on track and pulled out to a 35-27 lead at the end of the third quarter.

A three-point shot by the Colonels’ Miles Henderson, one of four treys he had in the game, put the Comets down 38-28 with 7:30 left in the game.
Led by Dabbs, Kejuan Mayo and Robert Jackson, the Comets battled back. A three-point shot by Dabbs closed the Comets’ deficit to three points at 50-47 with 2:31 left and gave the Comets a ray of hope.

The Comets then went into a zone defense and the Colonels responded by going to a spread offense. Halifax County tried to inch closer, but Dabbs missed a three-point shot with 1:45 left and Fleming scored on the other end with a dunk by Julian Hicks.

A Comets turnover on its ensuing possession was followed by a lay-up from Fleming’s Javonte Brown, a basket that put the Colonels up 54-47 with 52 seconds to go.

The Comets whittled the William Fleming lead down to three points with a three-pointer by Dabbs with 15 seconds to go. Fleming missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity at the free throw line with 13.6 seconds left, giving the Comets a chance to tie the game.

Marcus Williams attempted a three-point shot with three seconds left, but the shot missed the mark. Fleming converted two free throws with nine tenths of a second left to secure the 58-53 win.

“We tried to come back,” Ramage noted, “but there wasn’t enough time.”

The Comets had only one player besides Dabbs to reach double figures in the games, Dabbs, who also had four rebounds and three assists, was followed by Mayo with 14 points. Mayo had 18 rebounds, logged two assists and blocked one shot. Jackson chipped in nine points in the game.