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Comets Shoot Down Eagles

Kejuan Mayo hasn’t gotten the notice that some other centers in the Western Valley District have received this season. The Comets’ center will not go without notice now.

Mayo was an imposing figure as Halifax County High School upset archrival GW of Danville 52-50 in double overtime Friday night in front of a packed house here at Comets gym.

With two seconds left in regulation, the Comets senior blocked a shot by GW’s Paul Stone. After GW’s Darius Carter plucked the ball out of the air, Mayo stopped Carter from getting off a possible game-winning shot as the final second ticked off of the clock.

Mayo stymied GW with back-to-back blocks in the second four-minute overtime period. Teammate Deshon Dabbs hit two free throws with 1:36 left to give the Comets a 52-50 lead and account for the final score of the game.

He blocked a third shot in the final overtime period, swatting away a potential game-tying shot from GW’s highly-touted center C.J. Barksdale, a Virginia Tech recruit, with 18.2 seconds left.

GW (7-2 overall, 0-2 district) made a final attempt to tie the game, but Carter missed a lay-up in the final seconds. Mayo grabbed the rebound and hugged the basketball as time expired to seal the win over the state’s fourth-ranked team and give Halifax County High School its first win over GW in at least three years.

“You’ve just got to go after it,” Mayo said with a huge smile.

“When the game is close, you’ve got to go after everything, whether it’s a foul or not, you’ve got to go hard.”

Mayo went after everything hard.

The Comets center scored 13 points and blocked seven shots, six of them in the second half. He snared 13 rebounds and had one steal.

Four of Mayo’s points came when he scored the Comets’ first two baskets in the first four-minute overtime period. His last rebound of the game also was critical in helping his team seal the win.

Defensively, he held Barksdale, one of GW’s chief weapons, to nine points.

“This is a big win,” said Comets Head Coach Lynn Ramage, “especially for the kids. I’m just happy for the kids. I know this means a lot to the community.”

Ramage noted that while this was a win over GW, his team’s archrival, this was a district game that his team needed to win.

“Every game is a tough game,” Ramage said.

“I know this means a lot to the kids and to the community, it’s just another game to me. Of course, it’s GW, but I don’t put any more emphasis on beating them than I do any other team. I’d be just as happy beating Franklin County, PH (Patrick Henry) or any other district team.”

While Mayo played a huge role in the outcome, he had a lot of help from his teammates. Dabbs also had an impact game, scoring 26 points, reeling in seven rebounds and logging four steals.

Among the key shots that Dabbs canned was a lay-up with a minute and a half left in the first overtime period that gave the Comets a four-point lead. He also hit the Comets’ first basket in the second overtime period to put the Comets in front. Later, he hit what would be the two game-winning free throws.

Dabbs said he was confident that his team would win, despite some difficult moments in the extra periods.

“I’m thinking to win,” Dabbs said.

“I knew we were going to win. I had faith in my team. It shows we can beat anybody.”

The Comets (9-3 overall, 2-1 district) withstood most of what GW threw at them. Halifax County took the lead at the outset of the game and with Dabbs completing a three-point play, led 22-17 at halftime.

Halifax County maintained its lead through the third quarter, building a game-high eight-point lead when Deshaun Clark sank a three-point shot 29 seconds into the third period to put the Comets up 25-17.

GW, playing without starting point guard Jerail Howerton who is out with a broken foot and starting forward Daniel Clark who was sitting out a suspension in the wake of an ejection in his team’s game against Patrick Henry High School on January 5, cut the deficit to a single point at 34-33 at the end of the quarter.

The two teams swapped the lead three times in the fourth quarter, which ended in a 42-42 deadlock.

Halifax County led by as many as four points in the first overtime period, which ended in a 48-48 tie. With a lift from Dabbs, the Comets grabbed the first lead in the second overtime period and prevailed down the stretch.

“It could have gone either way – a free throw here, a missed shot there,” Ramage pointed out.

“We were lucky enough to win tonight.”