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Comets Edge WF

Free throw shooting has sometimes been a downfall of Halifax County High School basketball teams. Fortunately, it was the strong point for the Comets in Friday night’s Western Valley District opener against William Fleming.

Hitting eight of 10 free throw attempts in the final two and a half minutes, the Comets held off William Fleming High School 50-48 here in the district opener for both teams.

Deshon Dabbs, who led the Comets in scoring with 16 points, hit all four of his shots from the charity stripe in the closing minutes. Comets guard Marcus Williams hit three of five attempts during the stretch. Williams’ biggest effort was nailing both ends of a key one-and-one opportunity with 1:10 left in the game with his team leading 44-43.

The win, the first win the Comets have notched over William Fleming since the Colonels returned to the Western Valley District two years ago, improved the Comets’ record to 8-2 overall.

“It feels good,” Comets coach Lynn Ramage said of the win, “but 2-0 will feel better.”

Ramage’s reference was pointed towards Tuesday night’s game against Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke.

Patrick Henry is the only other undefeated team in the district. The Patriots crushed GW by 17 points this past Tuesday night and defeated Franklin County High School on Friday.

With the Comets and Patrick Henry being the only two undefeated teams in the district, Tuesday’s game will have a big impact in terms of the district title chase.

Ramage says defeating Patrick Henry in Roanoke will be a huge chore.

“It’s monumental,” Ramage said.

“It’s huge. Humongous. But, it’s doable. We match up well with them with their guard play and our guard play. They’re not going to be able to spread us out and do what they did to GW because we’re a lot quicker.”

The win over William Fleming brought the Comets to within one win of the total number of wins the Comets netted for the entire season last year.

“If we hadn’t messed around those other two games (Liberty Christian Academy and Person High School) we could be a10-0 right now,” Ramage mused.

While the free throw shooting down the stretch enabled the Comets to pull out the win, the story behind the scenes was the play of what Comets coaches and players call the white squad.

The white squad, consisting of reserves Demetre Faulkner, Markee Brooks, Shaquan Bailey, Keon Gutrich and Kendell Adams, entered the game for the first time with 3:33 left in the first quarter with the game tied at 10-10. When the first quarter ended, the Comets led 17-11.

Ramage left the squad in the game to start the second quarter. Brooks sank a 12-foot shot 22 seconds into the second quarter to give the Comets a 19-11 lead, the team’s biggest lead of the game.

After the white squad exited with 6:12 left in the half, William Fleming battled back to make it a see-saw game and take a 32-30 lead at the half.

With the game tied at 35-35, the white squad returned to the floor with 4:19 left in the third quarter and stayed on the floor the rest of the period. The group held its own, with Fleming grabbing a 39-37 lead at the end of the quarter.

“Those guys got us going,” Ramage noted of the “white squad.”

“When they started playing and doing well at the end of the first quarter, the starters said to keep them in. When you have your starters, Dabbs and those guys, saying keep them in. they understand that they’re helping us win.

“I fed off of the energy of my team, especially the white squad,” Dabbs said.

“We needed the white squad to step up and they did.”

The Comets trailed by three points when Dabbs hit a 15-footer to make it a 41-40 game with 4:37 left in the game. Rob Jackson slammed home a dunk after a steal to put the Comets up 42-41with 4:01 left in the game. Halifax County never trailed after that.

“That was a big play,” Ramage said.

“Last year he couldn’t do that (dunk the ball). From that point on, the guys did the things they needed to do.”