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Comets Need Overtime To Edge Person High 62-55

Halifax County High School head basketball coach Lynn Ramage labeled his team’s Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament title a gift – one that he’s happy to accept.

The Comets escaped Wednesday night’s championship game in the HCHS Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament with a 62-55 overtime win over neighboring border rival Person High School in a game.

It was only the second time in the history of the tournament that the championship game had been decided in overtime. Ironically, it was the Comets and the Rockets that played the first overtime championship game. That contest came in the 1996 title game, a game in which the Comets pulled out a 72-67 win to take the tournament championship.

“We got a 2009 Christmas present from Person,” Ramage pointed out.

“We will gladly take it. We didn’t win this game. Person gave it to us. The guys know we didn’t play well enough to win tonight.”

Comets senior Marcus Williams hit the big basket of the night for the Comets, a three-point shot with 22 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. Deshon Dabbs and Rob Jackson, who scored 22 points and 15 points respectively, shouldered the load in the four-minute overtime period by combining for a 5-0 Comets run that gave them a five-point lead with 26 seconds remaining in the contest.

“Marcus hit a big shot at a time when it was needed the most,” Ramage said.

“Last night (the previous night’s game against Durham Hillside High School) somebody else hit a put-back at a crucial time. We’ve had different people to step up on different nights.”

Jackson, who had his best night of the season and hit seven of his nine free throws, said this was a big test for the team.

“This is adversity,” Jackson remarked.

“Coach is always talking to us about how are we going to react when adversity comes. This was adversity. We just need to be a team and play as a team. Good teams like us win because we stick together.”

Dabbs admitted that he and his teammates did not take Person High School seriously enough.

“This shows that we can’t give it away to anybody,” Dabbs pointed out.

“We can’t underestimate anybody.”

Dabbs had a tough night despite scoring his team-high 22 points. He missed some shots that he normally makes and he hit only 10 of his 20 attempts at the charity stripe. He did hit three key free throws down the stretch that figured prominently in the outcome.

“My legs were gone,” explained.

“I’ve gotten beaten up pretty well these last two games. I just had to set my mind on making the shots. I was having minor cramps. My legs were hurting when I went down to shoot them.”

Person High School fell behind by seven points after the first four and a half minutes of the contest, but then stymied the Comets with a zone defense. The Rockets forged a seven-point lead over the impatient Comets just past the midway point of the second quarter and led the Comets 27-21 at halftime.

The Comets trailed 37-35 at the end of the third quarter but began losing their grasp on the game when Person High went on a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take an eight-point lead at 43-35 with 5:03 left in the game.

Shaquan Bailey snapped the Rocket’s run and teammate Kejuan Mayo added a basket off of an offensive rebound, one the 23 rebounds he had in the game to cut the margin to four points. A shot from Dabbs immediately afterwards cut the Rockets’ margin to two points and got the Comets back into contention.

Trailing by six points with just over a minute left in regulation, the Comets had to fight back yet another time. Two free throws by Jackson with 52.5 seconds left in regulation, cut the lead to four points. Dabbs trimmed the Rockets’ lead to three points by hitting one of two free throws that resulted from a technical foul against the Rockets.

Williams tied the game with a three-point shot during the Comets’ ensuing possession, making it 50-50 with 22 seconds left.

The Rockets’ Terry Scoggins had a chance to put his team back on top, but missed two free throws with eight seconds left, sending the game into overtime.

Jackson and Dabbs put the Comets on their shoulders in the four-minute overtime period, with the pair combining to give the Comets a 5-0 run that staked the Comets to a 59-54 lead with 26 seconds left in overtime.

A free throw by Jackson and a lay-up by Deshaun Clark off of a steal with 6.5 seconds left sealed the win for the Comets.

“Person showed a lot of heart,” Ramage said.

“They played well enough to win this thing. I’m glad we won it.”

Person High School coach Charles Dacus said he had a freshman and two sophomores on the floor a lot of the time down the stretch and that his team’s youth hurt in this situation.

“The guys played hard,” Dacus said.

“They battled all night. I can’t ask any more of them. The last 30 seconds of regulation was a result of our inexperience. We kind of panicked for a second there. If we had knocked down some free throws I think we would have been alright. It’s just the way the ball bounces.”