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Comets girls suffer loss to Forest Park in NW Region semis

The Comets girls’ varsity basketball team went undefeated in the regular season, won a Western Valley District title and a quarterfinal game in the Northwest Regional Tournament.

It needed one more win Friday at Forest Park to earn a berth in the Group AAA Tournament, but the host Bruins denied the Comets their ultimate goal, taking control with a 25-4 run in the second quarter and going on to a 74-42 win.

Destiny Betts led Halifax with 14 points, and fellow seniors Stephanie Carr and Melyse Brown added 10 and nine points, respectively for the Comets, who led 8-2 early and still held a 14-9 lead after one quarter.

Carr had a three-pointer among five points, Betts added five points, Brown two and Shameika Canada two points in the opening quarter, but the Bruins and junior guard Lexi Carpenter took over from there.

Carpenter, a Division I prospect who was perfect from the field and the foul line in the game, finished with 30 points and keyed the big run for her team in the second period, assisting TaChina Mitchell for a basket at the beginning of the second quarter to give the Bruins the lead for good.

The Comets later got as close as 24-18 on a basket from Brianna Lindsey and two Betts foul shots, but Carpenter scored seven points in a 12-0 run by the Bruins to finish the quarter and give them a 36-18 advantage at halftime.

A basket by Ashley Leachman and three-pointer by Carr brought the Comets to within 40-23 at the 5:13 mark of the third quarter, and a basket by Dekeda Townes later made it 49-27, but the Comets would hit no more field goals the rest of the period, with Brown hitting seven of eight free throw attempts, and Betts and Jamilia Smith each one of two from the line.

Betts added three field goals in the final period, but it proved to be too little, too late for the Comets, who finished the season with a 21-2 record.

Bruins’ coach Rebecca Tillet said she and her coaches realized the Comets thrived in a transition offense that featured the speed and quickness of Betts, and she had to tweak her defense in the second quarter to neutralize the Comets’ 6-2 center and leading scorer.

“We switched up our defenses a little bit,” said Tillet.  “We really respected the play of Betts, she’s just an incredible post player in our region, and we felt like we had to do something differently.

“She was getting too many touches and too many good looks,” Tillet noted, adding her team found its rhythm after making some adjustments to slow down Betts.

“I think our kids did a good job playing inside out and getting some good looks, and they got into a good rhythm.

“I think we had to repair some of our boxing out in the third quarter, but I thought our kids finished the game nicely.”

A combination of things contributed to the Comets’ dry spell in the second quarter that put them down by 18 points at halftime, according to Comets’ coach Matthew McCargo.

“I knew we could play with them, and I hate to lay blame anywhere, but first of all there were three or four ghost calls on Shameika Canada somewhere in that stretch,” said McCargo.

“I couldn’t see where she committed a foul and Melyse went hard to the basket three or four times and got dragged down, but no call.

“Then we shot our own selves in the foot, we missed some layups right up under the basket, missed free throws when they did call it, and dug ourselves our own hole.”

“They’re a very good team and play well together, they look for each other and play well, but they were beatable and we just got taken out of our game plan right there in the middle of the second quarter,” continued McCargo.

“We just stopped making shots.   Our outside shooting didn’t kick in.  Stephanie Carr hit a couple of shots from the perimeter, but our other outside shooters just didn’t kick in.

“They just smothered Destiny inside once we couldn’t make shots outside.  We just didn’t attack them, we just stood outside and took what might pop up instead of making things happen.”

McCargo reflected on the most successful season the girls’ program has had in over 20 years.

“We learned a lot, that with a lot of work you can get a lot of things accomplished,” said McCargo.  “I hope having this record will be a good recruiting tool for us, for some of these good athletes who wouldn’t normally play basketball. “We hope some of our jayvee players are watching and go out and start working hard, and I hope the boys are watching and get in the gym and realize the same thing.

“Nothing would be greater than both teams being in the region.”

“About the senior class, those seniors who are leaving have been working with us a very long time, I’m happy for them that they can have a great season but sorry that it had to end this way,” McCargo acknowledged.

“But, like I told them in the locker room, it’s the ending of one thing but the beginning of something else bigger and better.”

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