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Commitment key for improvement

With the loss of seven seniors, Halifax County High School varsity girls basketball head coach Billy Lucas will be looking at a different rotation next season.

 

Lucas, in his first year as Comets varsity girls head coach, had hoped to improve upon last season’s 6-16 record, and the Comets finished with one additional win, going 7-13 on the season and claiming the Halifax County High School Holiday Classic basketball tournament championship.

Winning the holiday classic tournament marked the high water mark of the Comets’ season, with Halifax subsequently losing its final nine games, eight of them against district teams.

Coming off the second of two straight winless campaigns in the Western Valley District, Lucas has a blend of youth and experience returning for next year.

Three of the teams’ youngest members, freshman Lakia Martin and sophomores Whitney White and Brittani Boxley saw playing time this year, with Boxley eventually working her way into the starting lineup.

Lucas will have the services of starters and rising seniors Alexia Tucker, Janiyah Logan and Ashley Hill next season, but the Comets’ success will also depend on what they and their teammates do in the off season. 

“Winning the classic was a great thing to do, especially with us not making it to the championship game last year,” commented Lucas.

“It turned out we were able to win it, and it was a great thing for the girls.  It probably was the highlight of the year.”

Lucas had hoped the momentum created by that win would carry over into the second half of the season, but injuries and illness disrupted his rotation.

Two concussions, a shoulder injury and a knee injury at one point affected his team, Lucas noted.

“It makes it tough on a young team, but regardless of what was going on the girls still fought night in and night out,” he said.

“Even when the score got lop-sided against us, they still fought hard the entire time.

“They kept playing basketball, and I thought that was a real big step.”

Rebounding and ball security are two issues Lucas aims to address in the off-season.

“Rebounding on the defensive end is something we have to do better, giving up second and third chance points,” he explained.

“We have to get that desire in us to want every rebound, and turnovers, we’ve just got to slow down and times and not press ourselves as much.

“Sometimes we were trying too hard to get back into games, and we have to realize when teams get on top of you, you’re not going to hit that home run.

“You chip away, and sometimes we did that, and we made games competitive whenever we did.”

The Western Valley District is tough with a lot of good athletes, and the Comets found the going tough offensively on many occasions, Lucas pointed out.

“We weren’t able to go as deep into our bench as I would have liked, and as far as scoring, that’s something else we will be working on in the off-season,” explained Lucas.

“We have to figure out a system that best fits the girls, and the spring and summer is a great time to work on an offense and get it down pat.”

Lucas also is looking at summer tournaments, camps and informal scrimmages against other high school teams as a way to sharpen his team’s skills.

“The big thing is off-season commitment from all of them,” he emphasized.

“We need that commitment and desire to want to do it, and I think with these girls we’ll get some of that out of them.”

Lucas and jayvee Head Coach David Graham, also finishing his first year, have been working toward implementing the same system, and Lucas wants to extend that to the middle school as well to get everyone on the same page.

“David did a real good job, and if he had a question he came to me.  I thought he did a real good job with the jayvees, and one goal for next year is getting the same system in place,” said Lucas.

“I’d love to get the middle school to work with us and put in our system, that way you’d have girls in the sixth grade running the same offense and defense they would as seniors.

“That’s a huge thing if we’re able to do that, and it builds the program all the way around.”

Year-round commitment is the key, Lucas noted.

“Right now, we have a lot of good girls who have bought into the program, and I believe we will see more of an off-season commitment to the program as a whole,” he said.

“For some of these girls it’s the only sport they play, and they can be more committed.

“That includes varsity, jayvee and middle school girls, if the middle school girls want to come over and work out they can.”

“Anything I can teach them now will be great for later,” Lucas added.

“The biggest thing in the off-season is building your program and getting your system in place.

“Going into the season we were a little bit behind, and that’s something we should be able to remedy.”

Lucas thinks he has some pieces in place to build the program moving forward.

“Next year I think we should be better.  We have a lot to build off of, and I think the program is moving in the right direction,” Lucas concluded.