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Comets boys, girls basketball battling to make tourney field

The stakes will be high for the Halifax County High School varsity boys and varsity girls basketball teams tonight as they face their next-to-last regular-season Western Valley District game against Franklin County High School. That is especially true for the Comets boys team, which will host Franklin County High School tonight at Comets gym at 7:30 p.m.

With a win over Franklin County High School tonight, the Comets boys can take themselves a step closer to earning a berth in the post-season district tournament.

A win tonight and a win over regular-season district champion Patrick Henry High School here in Monday’s Senior Night game will put the Comets in an even better posture for a district tournament berth, as it could possibly create a three-way tie for third place in the standings.

With only the top four teams in the five-team district making the field for the district tournament, the battle between the Comets, Franklin County High School and William Fleming High School for the much-coveted third-place and fourth-place spots in the standings over the course of the next few days will be intense.

The important thing, and the first step for Halifax County High School, though, is getting a win tonight. Halifax County High School Head Coach Larry Epperly says that while tonight’s game is a crucial game, he isn’t talking to his players about its importance.

“I won’t even mention it to them,” Epperly said.

“I’m sure they will probably know. We talk about playing well, executing and playing hard. We talk about getting better, and playing as well as we can play. That’s all we can control. If we do that, everything will be fine.”

The Comets and Franklin County High School were locked into a close contest when they faced each other in Rocky Mount earlier this season. Halifax County High School lost that game by seven points, but was in contention to the end.

“It was a close game that could have gone either way,” Epperly pointed out.

“With two minutes to play, we were down by two (points) and had the ball. We just got caught up in turnovers at the end.”

Epperly said he is expecting another close game tonight.

“I’m sure they (Franklin County High School) are coming in here with a lot of confidence after having beaten William Fleming Tuesday night,” the Comets coach noted.

“We’ve just got to control the things we can, and come with a good effort, attitude and execution.”

Epperly feels his team will have to score more than the 37 points it scored against Franklin County High School in their first contest if it is to come out on top.

“We’ve been kind of up and down (in scoring),” Epperly pointed out.

“We’ve had some games that we couldn’t find the basket. We’ve got to put some points on the board. We’re going to have to score a lot more points against them here Friday night.”

The fact that the Comets will be playing these crucial final two regular-season district games here on their home floor could be a difference-maker.

“As a coach you hate to admit this, but we have been better at home than we have been on the road,” Epperly said.

“For some reason, we’ve been better at home. I look for us to play much better here Friday than we played last week at Patrick Henry.”

The situation for the Comets varsity girls basketball team isn’t nearly as complex as the situation the Comets boys team is in. For the girls, the situation is quite simple – they must win their last two games, both of which are on the road, to force a tie for fourth-place in the standings and a playoff game to determine the final tourney berth.

A loss tonight against district co-leader Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount will mean that the Comets will not make the field for the post-season district tournament.