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Patrick Henry topples Comets 63-49

Patrick Henry High School is well known for its guards, Marcus Banks and Christian Kirchman, and their propensity for shooting the long ball.

Halifax County High School and guard Tavion Petty tried to match up in a battle of the long ball, but came up short.

A 9-0 PH run in the second quarter triggered by a 3-point shot by Banks allowed the Patriots to forge an 11-point cushion. From there, PH held off two runs by the Comets in the second half and downed the Comets 63-49 in a Western Valley District game Thursday night at Halifax County High School.

Banks, last year's district player of the year, scored a game-high 22 points with the help of three 3-point shots. Kirchman sank a trio of 3-pointers enroute to a 12-point night, with the pair accounting for six of the Patriots' eight 3-point baskets in the game.

Petty, who had gone scoreless in the Comets' loss to William Fleming High School Tuesday night and had scored only three points in last Saturday's game against GW, connected on five 3-point shots and scored 18 points in the contest in which the Comets drained seven 3-point shots.

"I had shots like that the last two games and just didn't hit them," Petty said.

"Coach (Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly) told me to get more shots up in practice and before the game and they started falling."

Petty scored 10 of the Comets 15 first-quarter points and Banks canned nine of his team's 13 first-quarter points as the Comets held a slim 15-13 edge at the end of the first quarter.

After the big first quarter, Petty didn't score again until he buried a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in the third quarter to cut an 11-point Patriots lead to eight points heading into the fourth quarter.

"In the first quarter, I was knocking down shots, and then they (PH) keyed Marcus Banks on me," Petty explained.

"That was the only difference."

Halifax County High School made one run at the Patriots in the third quarter, using a 5-0 spurt capped by a three-point play by Dakota Delaware to pull to within six points at 41-35 with 2:27 left in the quarter.

The Comets fell behind by 10 points when Banks hit a shot to open the fourth quarter, but got a basket from James Burden and two free throws from Trelanne Johnson to cut the Patriots' lead to six points at 48-42 with 6:37 left in the game. That was the closest the Comets would get the rest of the way.

Patrick Henry High School answered with an 8-0 run that produced a 56-42 lead with 4:44 left in the game, a run that effectively sealed the win.

"This is one of those nights where we got out-talented " remarked Epperly.

"I thought our guys fought and did some good things at times. The turnover bug bit is again, and we just gave them (PH) points. They (PH) were able to get a little cushion and it kind of stayed there the rest of the night."

The Comets had 26 turnovers in the game, while Patrick Henry High School had 18 turnovers.

Patrick Henry High School Head Coach Jack Esworthy said the difference between this game and the close five-point game the two teams played in Roanoke earlier in the season was the Patriots' experience against zone defenses such as the one Epperly used in the game.

"We've had a lot more games since then in which teams have played a 2-3 zone defense against us," Esworthy explained.

"It was a new look and we struggled against it at home. It was only because we made shots that we won that game. Their (Banks' and Kirchman's) ability to get off to a good start was we attacked the middle of the zone better and were able to go inside and score first."

Esworthy said the Comets gave a good effort against his team.

"When you come to Halifax, you've got to come to play," Esworthy pointed out.

"Although Larry's team is winless in the district, they're always in the game."

The Comets had only two players to reach double figures in the scoring column, with Keyshawn Johnson's 11 points following Petty's 18-point effort.