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Bulldogs claw Comets

Tavion Petty and Keyshawn Johnson put their Halifax County High School teammates on their shoulders and almost got them to the top.


Johnson sank a three-pointer from just inside the half-court line as the buzzer sounded at the end of regulation to send Wednesday night’s game against Martinsville High School into overtime. After that, the Comets sank.

Martinsville High School took advantage of Comets miscues and escaped with a 68-63 win, dropping the Comets to 1-3 on the season. 

“It hurts losing close games like that,” Johnson said afterward.

“But, sometimes it happens.”

Johnson had a big 20-point night, scoring all of his points in the second half , six coming in the four-minute overtime period. He hit four field goals in the fourth quarter that included the game-tying shot.

Teammate Tavion Petty, who finished the night with 21 points, scored 12 of the Comets’ 23 fourth-quarter points, hitting a trio of three-point shots in the process. Petty and Johnson combined to score all but one of the Comets’ points in the fourth quarter.

While Petty was just as instrumental as Johnson in the Comets’ rally from an eight-point deficit in the last six minutes of the game, Johnson had the better hand in the second half with eight field goals.

“I was getting open shots,” Johnson explained.

“Our guys were spreading the floor, helping me get through. I found open shots and took them. Sometimes I made holes and sometimes they were open. I got hot after I hit two, and it kept flowing.”

Unfortunately for the Comets, the flow didn’t continue all the way through the overtime period.

Johnson answered the Bulldog’s opening shot of the overtime period. The Comets fell behind when the Bulldogs’ Paris Jamison, who scored a game-high 39 points, stuck back an offensive rebound for a score. Martinsville’s Larry Perkins scored after a Comets turnover to put his team up 61-57. 

Another basket by Johnson cut the Bulldogs’ lead to two points. Martinsville got another basket from Jamison and two free throws from Devonte Holland to go up 65-59 with 46.6 seconds left. The Comets never recovered.

Jamison and his 39 points, many of which resulted from stickbacks of offensive rebounds, were big for Martinsville High School in the outcome.

“Paris hit every big shot we needed,” said Martinsville Head Coach Jeff Adkins.

“In the first half it didn’t seem like we could score without him. Paris on the offensive end is a little step above everybody else right now.”

Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly said his team’s lack of rebounding was the difference.

“You can’t let a kid get that many points and have a chance to win,” Epperly pointed out.

“He (Jamison) just took the ball right to the basket. He got rebounds. I don’t how many there were, but I expect half or more of his points came on stickbacks. We let him do it. Sometimes when you don’t do the dirty work you get what you deserve. We don’t have any excuses. We’re just not doing it.”

A lack of rebounding was at the heart of the Comets’ struggle early in the game when they fell behind 15-5 at the end of the first quarter with the Bulldogs’ Jamison scoring 12 of his team’s 15 first-quarter points.

After that, the Comets spent the rest of the night battling to get back into contention. A tip-in of an offensive rebound by James Burden brought the Comets to within four points at 24-20.

Two baskets by Evin Morrison got the Comets to within a point at 29-28 midway through the third quarter, but a spate of turnovers allowed the Bulldogs to extend the lead back to nine points with just under two minutes left in the quarter.

The Comets trailed by eight points when Petty hit the first of his three three-point shots with 6:10 left in regulation. Halifax County battled back to take the lead when Petty completed a three-point play with 46.2 seconds left in regulation to put the Comets up 52-51.

Martinsville High School regained the lead and had a chance to seal the win in regulation, but couldn’t pull it off as Demetrius Davis missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with 6.2 seconds left in regulation, opening the door for Johnson’s game-tying shot.