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Following slow start, Lions boys rebound

 

Halifax County Middle School boy’s basketball Head Coach W.J. Long had a right to be worried after the first quarter of his team’s Southside Middle School Conference Tournament quarterfinal game Wednesday at home against Nottoway.

A slow start had his top-seeded team trailing four West Division four seed Nottoway 11-7, but the Lions outscored the visitors 45-19 the rest of the way for a 52-30 win and a berth in the semifinals of the conference tournament tonight at Nottoway.

 

Halifax County (13-5) faces Bluestone at 4:30 p.m., the Trojans advancing to the semifinals with a win over Powhatan.

Jarvis Owens finished with a game-high 20 points for Halifax County, including five in the first quarter and seven in the fourth period, while teammate Kelonte Gutrich added 13 points in the final three quarters.

Quinten Jennings and Kavon Fitzgerald each finished with four points, while Tylik Powell, Will Miller, Zion Bailey, James Smith Jr. ands Andru Walker each added two points.

R.J. Scott added a point at the foul line for Halifax County, which finished 8-20 at the charity stripe for the game.

Long said his top-seeded team may have taken Nottoway too lightly at the beginning, and they played like it in the first quarter.

Nottoway player Z. Dalby hit his first four shots in the opening quarter, including a three-pointer and the Blue Devils built as much as an 11-5 lead before a Owens bucket at the end of the period.

“Nottoway wasn’t supposed to give us much trouble, but they had some size and athletic ability and made a fight out of it early in the game,” said Long.

“We failed to rebound like we did against Westwood earlier in the week and we fell behind early on in the first period.  After a time out and a few changes, we got things settled down and eventually pulled away.”

An 11-0 run at the start of the second quarter, starting with a basket by Smith and ending with a steal and basket by Owens gave Halifax a 18-11 lead before a Nottoway three-pointer ended the run.

Gutrich ended the quarter with a basket and three-point play to give the Lions a 25-14 lead at halftime, and an 8-0 run to open the second half gave Halifax a 33-14 bulge before Nottoway responded.

The lead stood at 39-21 heading into the fourth quarter, and Owens added his final seven points down the stretch as the Lions closed out the win.

Long knows it will take a total team effort for four quarters to come home from Nottoway with another tournament championship.

“We play Friday night, and if we want to be successful we are going to have to rebound and play all four quarters, not just the last three.”