- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Joe Chandler
“We got just what we wanted.” Those words from Halifax County High School Head Coach Larry Epperly had a big context as the Comets used a stingy zone defense and some good shooting to defeat archrival GW of Danville 61-52 here in Tuesday night’s Western Valley District home opener at Halifax County High School.
After having lost six of their previous seven starts, the Comets needed a win to launch the Western Valley District portion of their schedule and give themselves a shot of confidence.
“I’m really happy for our players,” Epperly said after the win that improved the Comets’ record to 3-6 overall and 1-0 in district play.
“To get that first district win is big. We’ve had some rough goes of late, and the guys bounced back and played a really solid game. We had good energy, good effort, better execution and we made some plays. They fought hard.”
The Comets got what they needed from their zone defense as GW struggled with its perimeter shooting and found itself unable to take full advantage of its quick team speed.
“We felt like the zone (defense) would force them (GW) to take some perimeter shots and give us a better chance to rebound,” Epperly noted.
“We felt it would keep our guys out of foul trouble, and we also thought it would establish a slower tempo. We did not want to get into a run-and-gun deal with them because they are very athletic. We wanted to establish a tempo that was a little slower. We kept the game in the 60’s and it worked out pretty well.”
Halifax County sped off to a 5-0 lead and trailed only once in the game. After falling behind 6-5 with 5:02 left in the first quarter, the Comets used a 12-0 run that started with a three-point shot from Tavion Petty and ended with a three-point shot from Ford Bradshaw to take a 17-6 lead.
Leading 17-8 at the end of the first quarter, the Comets went on an 11-2 run to start the second quarter. Bradshaw, who scored eight of his team-high 21 points in the first half, ended that run with a three-point shot that gave the Comets a 28-10 lead with 1:29 left in the first half. At halftime, the Comets held a 30-14 lead.
“We were able to get some easy baskets,” Epperly pointed out.
“Lately we hadn’t been shooting the ball real well. It was good seeing the ball going into the basket.
“One of the things we’ve been going through lately is that scoring has been so hard it hurts your defensive effort,” added Epperly.
“We got some scores, got our defense going, got some steals and were able to get a couple of rebounds.”
GW (6-6 overall, 0-1 district) made two runs at the Comets in the second half, cutting a 16-point Comets lead to five points at 45-40 with 4:49 left in the game.
Bradshaw converted both free throws of a one-and-one opportunity at the charity stripe with 4:40 left to push the Comets’ lead back to seven points. Tavares Hamlett, who joined the team at the end of the first semester, completed a three-point play with 3:40 left in the game to give the Comets a 10-point lead at 50-40.
“Tavares has been a shot in the arm,” Epperly pointed out.
“We went to our 40 offense, and he made a cut off of the high post and got it (the ball) back and got a three-point play. That was a big play in the game.”
GW’s Bobby Martin sank a three-point shot with 2:09 left to bring his team to within five points. But the Comets ran off six unanswered points that included a perfect 4-4 effort at the free throw line in the final 36 seconds of the game to seal the win.
“With the exception of one bad stretch in the third quarter and one bad stretch in the fourth quarter, we played a pretty solid game,” Epperly pointed out.
“I don’t think we’re ready to say we’re playing 32 minutes (of good basketball), but we’re getting closer.”