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Lady Comets hold off Person for Holiday Classic championship

Despite his team holding an 18-4 lead over Person High School late in the first quarter of the Halifax County High School Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament Friday night, Halifax County High School varsity girls basketball Head Coach Billy Lucas had a sense the game wasn’t over.

It wasn’t, and the Comets eventually had to scrap their way past the Rockets 57-51 to win their fourth Holiday Classic championship in the past five years.

“It’s our third time playing them and every time you play a team three times the games are going to be better than the first time you played them,” said Lucas.

“Coach (Ray) Reaves has done a great job getting his girls prepared, and they’ve come a long ways.

“Our girls have come a long ways, and they played real good tonight and got that win.”

Janiyah Logan led Halifax County with 22 points, all but four of them coming at the free throw line.  Logan was 18-24 at the charity stripe for the game, including a 10-12 effort in the fourth quarter to help hold Person at bay.

Alexia Tucker followed with 13 points, including two 3-pointers in the first quarter, while Brittani Boxley had 12 points, Che-Lese Bowman five points, Lakia Martin four points and Ashley Hill one point at the free throw line, where the Comets connected on 26 of 38 foul shot opportunities for the game.

Christina Harris led Person with 21 points, and C. Lester, Tiana Hatchett and Jasmine McCain each added eight points for the Rockets.

Person was 8-14 from the charity stripe for the game.

With the 6-2 Harris guarding the 5-6 Tucker on the perimeter in the second half, Logan knew the lane was open, and she took advantage of it by driving to the bucket and drawing fouls.

“They just left the whole middle open, and that gave me a chance to drive,” said Logan, adding she noticed the switch on Tucker in the second half.

“I’ve been working on my foul shots since the first game, and I pride myself on my foul shooting,” Logan added.

“Both teams played hard.  Person pressured us a little bit, but we got through it.”

Halifax built an 18-7 lead after one quarter but Person crept to within 26-21 at halftime.

Halifax, behind four points by Logan and Boxley and a 3-pointer by Bowman surged to a 39-31 lead in the third quarter before two late buckets by Hatchett pulled the Rockets to within 39-35 with a quarter remaining.

Person got as close as 45-44 midway through the fourth quarter, but Halifax hit 14 of 18 foul shots down the stretch and held on for the win.

“We’re still inexperienced, and it shows at times, but I like the fact that we competed for four quarters,” Person Head Coach Ray Reaves said following the game.

After losing to the Comets 49-20 at Comets Gym earlier in the season, the Rockets got some confidence and momentum after playing Halifax to a 63-55 loss later in Roxboro, Reaves noted.

“That’s probably one of the best games we’d played up to this point,” added Reaves.

“We competed and got a big game out of Christina and several girls, in rebounding and lack of turnovers, said Reaves of the team’s last meeting.

“We’re getting better, I’d like to think that, and I hope we don’t have a letdown, but we’re better than we were a month ago.”

Winning the Holiday Classic after losing to Gretna in the first round last year provides a big momentum boost for the Comets as they begin district play on the road against GW on Wednesday, Lucas noted.

“It’s a huge thing winning the tournament after losing in the first round to Gretna last year,” Lucas said.

“We weren’t even in the title game, and going into it (this year) I was hoping to win the first game and see what we could do in the next game.

“The girls came through and they stepped up.”

I don’t care who you’re playing, a ball game isn’t over at 18-4 no matter who you’re playing,” added Lucas.

“Person was able to go on a bit of a run to get close and it was a battle from there.”