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Comets gain first road win

All it took was 10 minutes.

The Halifax County High School varsity boys basketball team blistered Tunstall High School’s pressure defense with easy transition baskets and cruised to a 63-42 win Tuesday night in Dry Fork.

Tuesday night’s win, the Comets’ first road win of the season, improved the team’s record to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in Piedmont District play heading into tonight’s home district contest against Magna Vista High School.

With Keyshawn Johnson, who scored a game-high 18 points scoring five points and James Burden, who had a 16-point night, adding a basket, the Comets raced to a 7-0 lead in the first two and half minutes. 

The Comets led 18-6 after the first quarter, and, with five different players getting into the scoring column, the Comets led 22-8 after the first minute-and-a half of the second quarter and pulled away to a 33-21 lead at halftime.

A stifling pressure defense on the part of the Comets was too much for the Trojans to overcome. Time after time the Comets were able to pilfer the ball from the Tunstall High School guards or force the Trojans into taking a bad shot or some other miscue.

When Tunstall High School went to its pressure defense, the Comets had no trouble breaking it.

“They (Tunstall High School) were pressing, and we got it (the ball) to Keyshawn and we went right through it and got layups and easy baskets,” noted Comets Head Copach Larry Epperly.

“We had talked in practice Monday about how their press was going to be our offense, and that’s what happened. We did a really good job breaking the press.”

The Comets displayed a well-rounded offense attack throughout the game. For the first time, the Comets didn’t have to rely on the 3-point shot to produce a win.

“We did a number of things,” Epperly pointed out.

“We did some pick-and-rolls, we did some cutting and did some continuity movement. There were a lot of ways we scored.”

If there was any question that the outcome was still in doubt when the second half started, that doubt was not there long.

After the Trojans cut the Comets’ lead to 10 points with the first basket of the second half, the Comets got back-to-back 3-pointers from Tavion Petty, who finished his night with 10 points, and from Keyshawn Johnson to take a 39-23 lead. 

Leading 39-25 with six minutes left in the third quarter, the Comets went on an 8-0 run in which they got back-to-back steals and an easy transition basket from Keyshawn Johnson to take a 47-25 lead with 4:27 left in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.

A 7-2 run in the final two and a half minutes of the quarter that included two baskets from Burden and a 3-point shot from Will Miller produced a 54-28 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Comets scored five unanswered points to start the fourth quarter and extend their lead to 59-28. After that it was merely a mop-up affair for the Comets.

Tuesday night’s win was a good tonic for the Comets, who had lost close road games to Franklin County High School and Person (N.C.) High School on back-to-back nights last weekend.

“This was a good win,” Epperly said.

“We needed this game. We had a tough weekend. We felt like we could have won both of those games over the weekend, but we just didn’t execute at the proper time.”

Tonight’s game against Magna Vista High School will be another big Piedmont District game for the Comets.

“It’s a home game, it’s a district game and it’s one we have to be ready to play,” Epperly pointed out.

“We’ve been following their (Magna Vista High School’s) scores and they’ve been winning. They’re a good ballclub. It will be a good matchup.”