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Comets girls look to extend tourney win streak

The Comets’ varsity girl’s basketball team has claimed the Halifax County High School Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament title three years in a row. Coach Matthew McCargo and the Lady Comets would like nothing better than to make it four straight in this year’s tourney, set to begin Tuesday at Comets Gym.

Halifax County plays Gretna at 6 p.m. in the opening day of the tourney, and with a win advances to the championship game Wednesday against the winner of the game between Person High School and Park View High School.

A loss in Tuesday’s semifinal round puts Halifax County in the 3 p.m. consolation game the next day against the Person-Park View loser.

That’s a position McCargo does not his team to be in, particularly in a tournament he feels is one of the most important showcases for his team the entire year.

Winning the holiday classic obviously means a lot to his program, but it also means a lot to the community as a whole, McCargo explained.

“It’s the one time of the year where we can count on a large portion of the community coming out to watch the boys and girls play,” he said.

“It’s one of the few times of the year where the boys and girls play on the same night, and we always tell the girls we definitely want to play well in the Christmas Classic.

“It’s fun to play in the holidays, and if we get a win, it means so much more.”

“We can steal fans that can come out and watch us play for the rest of the year if we have a good performance during the Christmas Classic.”

The Comets enter the tournament with a 4-4 record, including a convincing 62-30 win over Park View on Dec. 16, followed by a 56-43 win Wednesday over cross-border rival Person High School.

Halifax County has been inconsistent at times thus far this season, a characteristic of a young and inexperienced team that lost all five starters and nine players overall from a Western Valley District championship squad last year.

Last year’s team set the gold standard, and McCargo is looking for this particular team to find its own identity.

“Everybody who has followed Lady Comets basketball knows our situation.  We lost nine players, nine excellent players and I think everyone is being sympathetic, but I don’t think that sympathy will last for long,” McCargo pointed out.

I think the community is going to look for improvement, and that’s what our goal is, improve from one game to the next.”

“We’re trying to make these girls understand it’s a rebuilding year and we have a lot of stuff we need to learn,” the veteran coach said.

“They may not reach the same plateau the team did last year, but some of the girls who are members this year may eventually reach that plateau.

“We just need them to understand they need to develop a work ethic now that those young ladies did.”

The Comets own wins over Martinsville and Liberty, in addition to wins over tournament participants Park View and Person High School, and his team seems to have intensified its play the past two games, both wins.

A loss at Magna Vista earlier this season was particularly disappointing for him, McCargo said.

“The Magna Vista game was one I was thoroughly disappointed in because we just didn’t get after it.”

Against Park View, the Comets took care of business early, that’s what his team needs to do every game, regardless of who they’re playing, according to McCargo.

Halifax owns wins over two of the three visiting teams in this year’s Holiday Classic, but McCargo expects a good test from an improved Gretna team.

“Gretna is much improved,” said McCargo.  “Over the summer, I saw a large part of their varsity players out on different teams.

“They’re working hard and trying to change their program around, and their coach is going to push them and get everything out of them he can.

“They’re looking to not just come in here and participate but to win a championship, so we have to come in with the same attitude.”

McCargo termed his team a work in progress as the district season approaches in January, and now is the time to concentrate on the fundamental things that make a team successful.

“We still have to work on boxing out, because we’re still getting out-rebounded by smaller teams,” explained McCargo, adding the Comets needed to focus on reducing turnovers, both forced and unforced.

“We need to continue to work on those areas and communication on the floor (offensive and defensive),” continued McCargo.

“That’s something I feel like any team needs in order to be successful, and I feel we’re still struggling in that department.”

If the Comets give their best effort and continue to improve they stand an excellent chance of defending their tournament title, McCargo noted.

“It’s all about consistency.  We haven’t gotten it yet, but I think if everybody who hits the floor plays hard and gives it 100 percent, we’ll get there.

“If we do that it will pay dividends for us in the tournament.”