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Girls seek holiday redemption

The Halifax County High School varsity girls basketball team is seeking redemption of sorts in the 19th Annual Halifax County High School Classic Basketball Tournament.

The Comets play Park View High School at 6 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the tournament. 

Gretna High School denied Halifax County a fourth straight Classic title last year with a 61-59 overtime win in the tourney semifinals, the first time in the nine-year history of the girls tournament the Comets did not advance to the championship game.

The Lady Comets salvaged a split with a 60-33 win over Park View High School the next night, but this time around first-year Comets Head Coach Billy Lucas and the Comets want the championship trophy.

A win would validate his team’s hard work thus far, which has given Halifax County a 4-3 record coming into the tournament.

“It would be a great thing if we could win the Classic this year,” said Lucas.

“It would show that all the hard work
the girls have put in so far this season is paying off for them and would help them be able to see the progress they have made to this point.”

Halifax County opened the season with relatively easy wins over E.C. Glass High School and Person High School but lost three in a row against Heritage, Martinsville and Bassett high schools before winning a tough road game at Person.

The Comets returned home to play one of its better games of the season in avenging its earlier loss to Martinsville with a dominating 57-34 win.

With two road games remaining before the tournament, at E.C. Glass and Magna Vista high schools, the Comets are showing steady progress, according to Lucas.

“The team has progressed this year,” he noted.  “They have learned a lot with basketball such as how to handle the press and to keep calm and relax even when things start to go bad.

“They are learning the game of basketball and this will help us greatly in the future.”

Lucas has seen some players step up in leadership roles for the Comets, and they will be counted on not just for the tournament but the rest of the season.

In particular, senior Logan Holmes and junior Alexia Tucker have emerged as team leaders, he noted.

“Logan Holmes has done a great job in this area (leadership) for us with her hard play and everything she does for the team,” said Lucas.

“She is a hustle player that will dive for any ball on the court regardless of the situation,” he pointed out.

“Also, Alexia Tucker has stepped up in a leadership role.  She is the point guard for the team and does a great job recognizing defenses and calling the correct plays, and she does a great job calling our defense for us also.

“She has stepped up in this role in this way.”

The Comets have been at their best when they control the tempo of the game, causing turnovers on the defensive end while avoiding them on the offensive end.

A consistent effort on both ends of the floor is crucial to his team’s chances of winning the Classic, Lucas pointed out.

“In my opinion, the key to winning the tournament is playing hard on both ends of the court,” said Lucas.

“For teams to win a tournament they have to play hard on the defensive end and make teams uncomfortable when they are on offense.

“They also need to work hard on the offensive end and not make many mistakes while they are on offense to get the job done.”

A tournament championship would create momentum for upcoming games, including his team’s Western Valley District opener at GW High School, Lucas noted.

“A win in the tournament would be great for the team,” he explained.

“It would help us gain some momentum before we play GW on Jan. 2.  Anytime you can get a win it always helps with momentum.”

The Holiday Classic is one of his team’s few opportunities to play on the same floor as the boys on the same day, and that provides extra incentive to play well, Lucas concluded.

“I think the Classic is a great opportunity for fans to come out and watch the girls,” he said added.

“And, with the boys playing after us it does help bring in people who might not always watch the girls play and sometimes gets them to come out to more of the girls games.

“We appreciate the support from all the Comet fans that we have received this year.”