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Defending champions out-match Comets

 

Sometimes a team simply finds itself out-matched by a physically bigger and more talented team.

That’s the situation the Halifax County High School varsity boys basketball team found itself in Tuesday night when it faced defending Group AA state champion Brunswick County High School in Lawrenceville.

 

Brunswick County High School, led by Division I college prospects, B.J. Stith and Brandan Stith, sons of Brunswick County High School head coach and former University of Virginia basketball star Bryant Stith, overwhelmed the Comets in a 65-36 win.

Brandan Stith, a junior, had 22 points, with his younger brother, B.J. Stith, scoring 13 points.

“They’re a good team,” Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly said of the Bulldogs.

“They were 29-1 last year and have everybody back. They play with a lot of confidence. They have skilled players and they have a couple of Division I guys.”

While it is tough to find positives in a tough loss like the one the Comets sustained Tuesday night, there were some good things that stood out for the Comets.

“The game was hard for us,” admitted Epperly.

“But, I was happy that throughout the whole game, as discouraging as it was, we had good body language, we stayed positive and we kept working. That’s going to help us down the road.

“If we had had the effort Saturday (in the game against E.C. Glass) that we had tonight, we would have had a close game at E.C. Glass,” added Epperly.

“We’d have been much better.”

Epperly said he was also pleased with the team’s defensive effort.

“We handled some situations pretty well,” he pointed out.

“We just couldn’t score. We had trouble on the offensive end, but I thought defensively, holding them to 65 (points) wasn’t bad. Overall, our defense wasn’t that bad. Turnovers led to some easy baskets for them, but when you look at us in a half-court set, we weren’t bad on defense.”

The Comets (1-3 overall) trailed by eight points in the early minutes, but got a three-point basket from Ford Bradshaw with 4:01 left in the first quarter to cut their deficit to five points at 12-7.

That was the last time the Comets would score in the quarter, as Brunswick County High School scored 10 unanswered points down the stretch to take a 22-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Halifax County High School’s scoring drought lasted well into the second quarter and wasn’t broken until James Jennings scored on a stickback of an offensive rebound with 2:47 left in the first half. The damage had already been done, however, as Jennings’ basket cut the Comets’ deficit to 24 points at 33-9.

Dakota Delaware and Bradshaw scored for the Comets in the final minute and a half of the first half, but Brunswick County High School was still well in command with a 35-14 lead at halftime.

The Comets went almost three and a half minutes into the second half before they could score again. Shaquille Ford buried a three-point shot with 4:46 left in the third  quarter to make the score 44-16.

One of Halifax County High School’s best flurry came when it outscored Brunswick County high School 11-2 in the final five minutes of the game to rally from a 36-point deficit and cut its final deficit to 29 points.

The Comets will return home tonight to face Heritage High School of Lynchburg.

“We don’t know much about Heritage,” Epperly said.

“We’re looking forward to Friday, and we’re looking forward mostly to being better than we have been.”