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Comets Clinch Winning Season With JF Victory

A winning season has been just out reach for the Comets varsity girls’ basketball team the past several seasons, and out of the picture for a lot longer than that. It is out of reach no longer after the Comets’ 52-40 win at Jefferson Forest on Tuesday, with Halifax County rebounding from a slow start and a tie at halftime to pull away to the victory.

Halifax County (2-1 WVD, 12-3 overall) got 13 points from Whitney McCargo and eight each from Melyse Brown, Tiffany Wilson, Nia Brown and Destiny Betts in beating the Lady Cavaliers for the second time this season.

Jamilia Smith added six points and Stephanie Carr a point from the foul line for the Comets.

Anna Carter, Rachel MacKenzie and Becca Fath led Jefferson Forest with nine points apiece, and the Lady Cavaliers were 11-29 at the charity stripe.

The Comets trailed 14-10 after one quarter before tying the game 21-21 at halftime.

A 12-6 run in the third quarter and a 19-13 surge in the final period allowed the Comets to reach yet another goal established before the start of the season.

Much like the teams’ earlier meeting, the Comets got off to a slow start but settled down as the game wore on, taking advantage of its defense and its depth to get steals and easy baskets in transition.

“We got out to a slow start on offense and defense before the girls settled in,” said Comets coach Matthew McCargo.

“Our offense picked up and our intensity picked up in the second half, and we took advantage of turnovers for some easy buckets.”

“Jefferson Forest has improved but they don’t have a lot of depth, so we continued to apply defensive pressure and by the middle of the third quarter they started to fade.

“They’re a few players away from being a good team, but they’re well coached and are very disciplined.”

Just as in their earlier meeting, the Lady Cavaliers got off to a strong start, leading 14-10 after one quarter behind two treys and a bucket from Kelsey Clay.

McCargo, who had two buckets in the opening quarter, scored three points in the second, while Nia Brown scored four to help Halifax gain the tie at halftime.

Halifax got buckets from Melyse Brown, McCargo, Wilson, Betts, Smith and Nia Brown in the third quarter, and Melyse Brown and Betts added two baskets apiece in the final quarter, while McCargo and Wilson each had a field goal and two made foul shots.

Smith added a field goal and Carr one of three from the line to help give Halifax some breathing room down the stretch.

As important as Tuesday’s win was to the program, a win Friday against Franklin County would be even more important, because it would put the Comets at 3-1 in the district, explained McCargo.

“The girls celebrated a little in the locker room after beating Jefferson Forest, but they knew they had to re-focus their efforts for Franklin County,” said McCargo, who has only two days to prepare his team for a high-powered Eagles squad that routed GW 98-48 Tuesday at Rocky Mount.

“We knew we had a lot of work to do to prepare for Franklin County, even before we saw that score,” continued McCargo.

“We know they have the returning player of the year in [point guard] Shea Smith, and another all-district player in Miranda Smith who is one of their leading scorers.

“We know we can’t play at their tempo and we have to figure out a way to slow the game down, but we’ve played well against them for three quarters the last few times out.

“We just have to find a way to play four solid quarters against them.

“And, we have to play solid defense without fouling, because they are an excellent free throw shooting team, and they try to get into the bonus and double bonus as early as they can.”

That being said, McCargo is optimistic about his team’s chances Friday.

“We have to hold home court advantage, and that’s another goal we established at the start of the season.”

“The girls have dedicated the entire season to the seniors from last year, and the girls who are juniors promise that next year they’ll dedicate their senior seasons to those who went before them to ensure the program will continue to grow.”

“They also want to dedicate the rest of the season to coach Ray Reaves, (former Comets girls head coach), who gave the passion for winning and building a winning program.

“All our goals were established when Reaves coached here.  He was the first one to call and congratulate us when we beat GW, and I think that was a classy move.

“He’s seen the girls play in person several times this year, and he keeps supporting us.