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Comets snap four-game skid with 71-64 win over Heritage

Dakota Delaware admitted a mistake on his part led to his absence when Halifax County High School faced Patrick Henry High School Tuesday night in Roanoke.

The Comets senior redeemed himself Friday night, coming off of the bench to score a team-high 18 points to help lead the Comets to a 71-64 win over Heritage High School in a non-district game at Halifax County High School.

Friday night's win by the Comets snapped a four-game losing streak and improved their record to 7-8 on the season.

"I messed up and missed the game on Tuesday (against Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke) so I had to redeem myself and show Coach (Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly) I want to be here," Delaware said.

That, he did.

Delaware scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half, with most of his baskets coming from deep inside the paint.

The last of his seven field goals for the night put the Comets up 64-49 with three minutes left in the game. Before that, Delaware accounted for five points in a 7-0 run by the Comets at the end of the third quarter, a run that took the Comets from a one-point deficit to a six-point 52-46 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Comets never trailed after the late third-quarter run.

"They (Heritage High School) weren't fronting the post, and Coach told me to work on my post moves and score," Delaware said of his post play. "I was getting open and the guys were getting me the ball."

Epperly said he expected Delaware to be fresh for the game.

"He was rested, so he should have been fresh," Epperly said.

"He came in with some energy. We were able to get him the ball in the post and he made some plays. That's what we need out of him."

The game was a close one all the way, with the lead swapping hands seven times in the first half and twice in the second half. Halifax County led by 15 points after Delaware's basket with three minutes left in the game, but scored only one field goal after that.

A basket by Tavion Petty with 1:40 left in the game was the only interruption in a 9-2 Heritage run that brought the Pioneers to within eight points at 66-58 with 52.6 seconds left in the game.

A three-point basket by the Pioneers' William McCoy with 19.4 seconds left cut the Comets' lead to three points at 67-64. Four straight free throws, a pair from Kevon Tucker with 18.4 seconds left and a pair from Petty with 11.6 seconds left, sealed the Comets' win.

"We had opportunities to put the game away," Epperly said, "but we did what we had to do. Even though Heritage made a run, I didn't think the game was ever really in jeopardy. I never felt like we were going to lose. I knew eventually we would make a free throw, and Kevon did. He stepped up and made two big ones at the end to put the game out of reach."

The Comets gave a solid performance with seven players getting into the scoring column, four of them hitting double figures. Following Delaware's 18-point night were Keyshawn Johnson with 16 points and Petty and James Burden with 10 points apiece.

Halifax County hit four of 15 shots from three-point range and committed 18 turnovers in the contest, five of which occurred in the fourth quarter.

 "It's been a hard last four games," Epperly noted of the four games the Comets had played prior to Friday night.

"We've been in all of those games. They very easily could have been wins. We desperately needed a win. I thought the spirit was good, the effort was good and we beat a very good team."