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Lady Comets Wear Out Jefferson Forest 52-33

A 23-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters proved to be the difference in a 52-33 win by the Comets varsity girls basketball team over visiting Jefferson Forest Wednesday night. Destiny Betts and Nia Brown finished with 13 and 10 points, respectively, for Halifax County, which trailed 13-8 after one quarter and 24-23 at halftime, before shutting out the Cavaliers 11-0 in the third quarter.

An 18-9 run in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach for the Cavaliers, who came into the game with a 1-5 record, including a pair of losses to a strong Altavista team and setbacks to E.C. Glass, Staunton River and Franklin County.

Whitney McCargo scored seven points and Melyse Brown six points for the Comets, while Shameika Canada and Jamilia Smith each finished with four, Stephanie Carr three, Ashley Leachman and Summa Brandon two apiece.

Tiffany Wilson hit one of two chances at the foul line for the Comets, who hit a season-high 75 percent (9-12) at the charity stripe.

Becca Fath led Jefferson Forest with 10 points, while Erin McKenzie added seven for the Cavaliers, who were 9-15 at the foul line.

A slow start saw the Comets trail by five points after one quarter, with only Melyse Brown and McCargo hitting baskets, and McCargo and Betts each going 2-2 from the foul line.

Halifax drew to within a point twice in the second half, once after a Canada putback and once on a Carr 3-pointer, and two straight baskets from Nia Brown gave Halifax a brief 23-22 lead before a putback from Rachel MacKenzie gave the Cavaliers the lead at the break.

Halifax came out of the locker room and clamped down on defense in the third quarter, with its man-to-man pressure keying an 11-0 run.  Betts had five points in the surge, Nia Brown a field goal, Melyse Brown two foul shots and Betts, Wilson and McCargo each one of two from the line to make it 34-24 with a quarter remaining.

A 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter put the game out of reach before Anna Carter could respond with two foul shots for Jefferson Forest.

Betts scored six points in the fourth quarter, Nia Brown four, and Leachman, Canada, McCargo and Brandon two apiece as the Comets pulled away.
The Comets’ switch to the man-to-man defense proved to be the difference in the game, both coaches agreed.

“We came out great and gained a little confidence in the first half, but Halifax turned up the full-court pressure and that got to us in the third quarter,” said Jefferson Forest coach Paul Redgate, whose team includes only two seniors.

“In the first half, the girls were strong with the ball and made smart decisions, but later in some cases one turnover led to another.

“Give Halifax credit, they’re a great team and they definitely gave us some mismatches.  No. 24 (Betts) is a great post player, one of the best we’ll see and the guards were able to handle our pressure.”

“Give them credit for turning up the pressure and gaining control of the game,” Redgate added.

“This is a young team and we’ll gain some experience as the season goes along.

Although relatively inexperienced at the varsity level, Jefferson Forest gave his team all it could handle in the first half, Comets coach Matthew McCargo said.

“They were really, really poised and really, really disciplined.”

“We couldn’t seem to rattle them with our full court or half court trap, and when we fell back into our 3-2 zone they were patient and just picked us apart.

“We went man-to-man for about a minute in the first half and realized that was the best defense against them because we had every part of the floor covered.

“I told the girls at halftime it was a coaching error not to go man-to-man sooner, and asked if they would go out and pick me up and make the coach look good, and they did that.”

It took another team effort to come out with a win, McCargo added.

We have plenty of subs on the bench who can come into the game,” he said.

“Destiny is just playing phenomenally, but once again the people off the bench looked good for us, including Stephanie Carr at the point,
“Nia came on strong tonight, Melyse is getting better and better at the point and Whitney is looking for her shot.

“Having Chelese Bowman and Ashley behind them makes my job as a coach easier.”