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Rockets Nail Comets With Second Loss

Person High School succumbed to Halifax County High School’s pressure defense in the championship game of last Wednesday’s Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament. The Rockets didn’t fold when the two teams met Tuesday night in Roxboro, N.C.

Person High School held on through the final minutes and edged the Comets 67-62 in a game that turned chippy in the fourth quarter and ended with tempers on both teams on the verge of boiling over.

With 21.3 seconds left in the game, Person High School guard Jonathan Allen exchanged some heated words with a Comets player in the wake of a foul. A handful of Person High School fans spilled out onto the court, but quick action by Roxboro, N.C.  police, Person County, N.C. sheriff’s deputies and Person High School officials prevented a major fracas.

Police escorted the unruly fans from the gym and sent them off of the premises. The final seconds of the game were played without incident.

“It’s tough to beat someone three times in a row,” said Comets head coach Lynn Ramage after his team had suffered its second loss in as many nights.

“We made them (Person High) look good. We play well and then we hit spurts where we don’t play well. We started off well and had a chance to put them away early and missed layups and things like that. At the start of the game is when you need to finish them.”

The Comets had beaten Person High twice earlier this season, with this game taking on a resemblance of the Holiday Classic championship game. As they had in the Holiday Classic title game, the Comets fell behind early in the second half but rallied to make a game of it.

Trailing 42-33 in the third quarter, the Comets went on an 8-0 run with Deshaun Clark, who had a season-best night with nine points, hitting a pair of lay-ups. Deshon Dabbs added a bucket off of a lay-up and Demetre Faulkner hit a lay-up after a steal by Dabbs.

That flurry, which took just under two minutes, allowed the Comets to cut their deficit to a single digit at 42-41 with 1:47 left in the third quarter.
Person High led 47-43 at the end of the third quarter with Halifax cutting the margin to two points with a basket by Rob Jackson just 33 seconds into the fourth quarter. Then the game unraveled for the Comets.

The Rockets went on a 13-1 run over the next two minutes and 43 seconds, with four of the points coming in the wake of a technical foul against the Comets. That surge by the Rockets left Halifax County trailing 60-46 with 3:45 left in the contest.

Halifax County (7-2 overall) managed to chip into the Rockets’ lead down the stretch but could not erode the entire deficit.

“I don’t know that we really did anything different from what we did last Wednesday night (in the Holiday Classic) except that we were able to keep our composure,” said Rockets coach Charles Dacus after the win that improved his team’s record to 5-7 overall.

“Halifax put on a run tonight. They put that run on last Wednesday night and we withered a little bit under their pressure. Tonight we were able to keep our composure and keep playing basketball.”

One of the keys to the game was that Person High School was able to keep a lid on Dabbs, the Comets’ top scorer. Dabbs, who scored 22 points against the Rockets in the tournament title game, scored only eight points in this contest.

“They ran a box-and-one on Dabbs and shadowed him all over,” Ramage noted.

“They’re trying to make us prove that somebody else can score besides him.”

Halifax County led by as many as six points in the first quarter and led briefly in the early part of the second quarter but could not sustain its momentum. The Comets had some opportunities to open up the margin on the Rockets but were unable to capitalize on them.

Kejuan Mayo led the Comets with 14 points. He also snared 18 rebounds and blocked five shots. Clark, Jackson and reserve center Keon Gutrich chipped in nine points each.