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Lady Comets Trump William Fleming 77-67

Comets varsity girls coach Matthew McCargo knew a fast start would be crucial if his team stood a good chance of knocking off Western Valley District leader William Fleming Thursday at Comets Gym. He got his wish and then some, as the Comets used a 26-13 run in the first quarter and a 20-10 run in the third to help beat Fleming 77-67, handing the Lady Colonels (6-1 WVD, 15-5 overall) their first Western Valley District loss of the season.

Destiny Betts led Halifax (5-1 WVD, 16-3 overall) with a game-high 25 points, including 11 in the opening quarter while Melyse Brown added 19 and Whitney McCargo 11 points.

Nia Brown and Tiffany Wilson each added eight points, Jamilia Smith three on her team’s only 3-pointer of the game, and Ashley Leachman two at the foul line for the Comets, who led 26-13 after one quarter, 41-29 at halftime and 61-39 after three quarters after building as much as a 27-point lead.

That proved to be enough for the Comets to withstand a furious Fleming rally in the final eight minutes which cut the Comets’ advantage to 73-65 lead with 36 seconds remaining after a 3-pointer by the Colonels’ Tiasia McGeorge, her fifth trey of the game.

Fleming’s Erica Coleman scored 11 of her team-high 23 points and McGeorge 11 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter, with McGeorge hitting a trio of 3-pointers, but the Comets stymied the rally by going 8-14 at the foul line in the final period.

Melyse Brown was 3-6 at the foul line and finished with nine points in the final period, including a key offensive rebound off a teammate’s missed free throw and subsequent score.

McCargo was 3-4 at the line and Nia Brown added a field goal and two made foul shots for Halifax County, which was 20-33 at the charity stripe for the game.

The Comets’ quick starts in the first and third quarters produced a 27-point deficit toward the end of the third quarter that proved too much to overcome, noted Fleming coach Champ Hubbard.

“Halifax was well prepared and I think it was a coaching error on my part that contributed to this,” Hubbard said.  “I should have put more pressure on them early on, and it was a coaching error on my part, because I didn’t know how the game was going to go and how tight the game was going to be called.

“It will be a different game next time, but coach McCargo has done a great job with this program.  I remember when it wasn’t the greatest, but he’s built this program up, much the same way I’ve done at Fleming.

“We just have to keep fighting to be number one in the district, but it’s a testament to my kids to be down by as much as we were and get it down to as few as eight points.

“In the second half, we weren’t ready until the middle of the third quarter, and we can’t afford for things like that to happen at this point of the season,” Hubbard continued.

“They have to play that way the entire game.  It’s just unfortunate it happened today, and the long layoff could have had something to do with it, but we still should have come here ready to play.”

Getting off to a good start proved to be a confidence builder for his team, McCargo explained.

“We got off to a slow start up there and couldn’t make our shots, so I told the girls to come out and play hard because it may be the last time we play as a unit in this gym.

“The most important part of the ball game after the beginning of the first quarter is the beginning of the third quarter, and we wanted to make sure we came out aggressively.

“We wanted to put pressure on McGeorge, Fleming’s point guard because we knew she could light it up, and we wanted to cut off the passes over the top to Stovall because that hurt us some early in the game.

“We took that away and got some steals, and when we got the ball we attacked the rim, getting either fouls or layups.”

The Comets regained their focus and kept the Colonels at bay down the stretch, McCargo continued, while noting strong efforts from Betts and Melyse Brown the entire game, among others.

“Destiny was a beast on the boards, going after offensive rebounds and she’s been doing that all year,” said McCargo.

“She got after it again tonight and Melyse Brown continues to attack the rim from her point guard position.”

Halifax needs only one win in its remaining two district games against Franklin County and Patrick Henry to clinch second-place in the district and host a first-round game in the tournament, but the team wants more than that, McCargo emphasized.

We talked about the scenario in the television program, “Deal Or No Deal” before the game,” he said.

“I told them that if you want more, we can put a banner on the wall, be district champions, extend our seniors’ season, host a tournament game, and go as far as we can go.

“This is what you can still get, and the girls have bought into that.

“They’re not going to settle for just having a good season, they want more and so do I.”