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Comets boys advance to Holiday Classic title game with win over Bluestone

You could feel the engine turning over and the gears grinding. But, for more than three quarters of Thursday night's game against Bluestone High School in the opening round of the 19th Annual Halifax County High School Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament the Halifax County High School varsity boys basketball team made little progress.

It wasn't until the Comets went on a 7-0 scoring binge just prior to the midpoint of the fourth quarter that they generated enough energy to pull away from Bluestone High School and ring up a 65-45 win.

With the win, the Comets advanced to Friday night's championship game where they will face Park View High School of South Hill. Park View advanced to the title game with an 83-38 win over Roxboro, N.C. Community School. Friday's title game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m start.

The Comets had their game against Bluestone High School under control for the most part, but was not able to muster enough firepower to deliver a knockout punch until they made a 7-0 run that started with a pair of free throws from Tavion Petty with 5:36 left in the game.

Those free throws lifted the Comets to a 10-point lead, and when Petty capped the run with a layup off of a steal with 4:32 left to play, the Comets went up 52-35. Bluestone never recovered as the Comets pulled away down the stretch to post the 20-point win.

"I thought we were stuck in mud," said Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly.

"We just played a really sloppy game of basketball. We didn't execute. We weren't precise in anything. That one spurt won the game for us. Outside of that, I thought we were just kind of standing around the whole night.

"You're always happy with a win," he added, "but we've got to play a lot better if we're going to win tomorrow."

The Comets took the lead at the outset on a three-point basket from Kevon Tucker and ran out to a 16-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. A three-pointer by Trelanne Johnson to start the second quarter put the Comets up 19-4.

Bluestone made a run at the Comets in the last two minutes of the period, getting five points from Aaron Watson and two free throws from Darius Baskerville to cut its deficit to nine points at 24-15. A basket by the Comets' Evin Morison, his only basket of the game, gave the Comets a 26-15 lead at halftime.

Statistically, the Comets had a good first half with only six turnovers as compared to 14 for the Barons, and they hit five of 11 attempts from three-point range. Bluestone High School, on the other hand, had just three field goals in the first half, with the rest of the points coming from the charity stripe.

A 9-4 run by the Comets in the first four minutes of the third quarter gave them a 35-19 lead. However, a surge by Bluestone that started late in the third quarter and continued with an easy layup by Watson to start the fourth quarter cut the Comets' lead to nine points at 39-30 with just over seven and a half minutes left in the game.

That was the closest that Bluestone would get to the Comets the rest of the way as the Comets got going and pulled away to cap the win.

The Comets had three players to reach double digits in the scoring column, with Keyshawn Johnson and Trelanne Johnson both scoring a game-high 15 points. Tucker, who had three three-point shots in the game, finished with 11 points.


Friday Holiday Classic Tournament Schedule

3 P.M. - Gretna High School Vs. Park View - Girls Consolation Game

4:30 P.M. - Roxboro N.C. Community School Vs. Bluestone - Boys Consolation Game

6 P.M. - Person N.C. High School Vs. Halifax County - Girls Championship Game

7:30 P.M. - Park View Vs. Halifax County - Boys Championship Game