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Comets edge William Fleming 45-41 to take district lead

Halifax County High School’s Trelanne Johnson has made some big plays on the hardwood.

None have been bigger than those he made in the final four minutes of Friday night’s Western Valley District contest against William Fleming High School.

Helping fuel a late Comets rally, Johnson came up with a steal and hit a layup with 3:58 remaining in the game to bring his team to within a point. Later, in the last 40 seconds of the game, with the Comets clinging to a one-point lead, Johnson sank three of four free throws and came up with a critical rebound to help his team snare a come-from-behind 45-41 win.

The dramatic win, which saw the Comets rally from a 15-point deficit with nine minutes remaining, was the team’s second straight Western Valley District win. It put the Comets (4-6 overall, 2-0 district) on top of the district standings.

“We just believed we could win,” said Comets guard Ford Bradshaw, who led the team in scoring with 17 points that included a pair of three-point baskets.

“They’re the best two wins I’ve had since I’ve been playing basketball,” he added, noting the team’s win last week over archrival GW.

“We just need to keep it going.”

Johnson, a sophomore, didn’t enter the game until the third quarter. After sinking the big layup to bring the Comets to within a point, he stepped up to the free throw line for the first time with the Comets leading 42-41 with 40.6 seconds, facing a two-shot opportunity.

He missed the first shot, but drained the second one. Then, with the Comets clinging to a 43-41 lead with 13.3 seconds left. Johnson again faced a two-shot opportunity at the charity stripe. He sank both shots.

“It was hard,” Johnson said of his first trip to the charity stripe.

“Missing the first shot just made me want to make the second one that much more.”

The second trip to the free throw line was also hard.
“I was real nervous, but I just had to do what I needed to do for us to win.”

The Comets were in a tough situation early in the game as William Fleming blistered the Comets’ zone defense with a 4-7 effort from the three-point line to take a 15-4 lead in the first seven minutes. A three-point basket from Bradshaw, his second of the game, allowed the Comets to close the gap to 15-7 at the end of the first quarter.

A layup by Bradshaw off of a steal brought the Comets to within four points at 17-13 with 6:47 left in the first half. With both teams playing a zone defense and using up large chunks of the clock with each possession, the Comets kept it a four-point game at 21-17 at halftime.

The Comets scored only six points as they struggled through a tough third quarter that saw William Fleming High School build a 15-point lead at 36-21 with 1:07 left in the period.

A 7-0 Comets run that started when Tavion Petty hit a layup off of a steal with 7.8 seconds left in the third quarter brought the Comets to within eight points at 36-28 with 7:13 to play.

With Bradshaw, Freddie Edmunds and Johnson leading the way, the Comets battled back against William Fleming High School’s zone defense to pull out the win.

“I give credit to our kids,” said Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly.

“They hung in there. I was pleased with the fact that we didn’t fold our tent, that we kept playing. We gave ourselves a chance, and when we had to make big plays, we did. It was a total team effort down the stretch.”