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Lady Comets win second straight holiday classic title

With Halifax County High School clinging to a one-point lead against Person High School (N.C.) late in the Gazette-Virginian Holiday Basketball Classic girl’s championship game, Comets Coach Wayne Murray put the ball in the hands of senior point guard Alexia Tucker.

Tucker responded assisting on several buckets and hitting a free throw after a steal in the final two minutes of a 39-34 win for the Comets, their second straight win in the annual tournament.

Halifax County beat Gretna High School 49-37 Friday in the tourney semifinals, and Person reached the finals with a 50-35 win Friday over Park View High School of South Hill.

“It’s very special, it’s my senior year and my last year,” said Tucker after the game.

“I wanted the ball in my hands.  He (Murray) told me to be a point guard and make the plays and make it open for other people so they could score.”

“It took defense, and it took heart,” Tucker added.  “We trusted one
another, and we always play to the last second.”

The Comets got five first-quarter points from Lakia Martin and a trey from Tucker as they took a 10-4 lead into the second period.

Mecca Carter hit two baskets, and Martin, Tucker and Brittani Boxley one apiece as Halifax led 21-13 at halftime.

The Comets led 30-21 entering the fourth quarter, where Person went on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to one point midway through the period, but Tucker assisted on baskets by Boxley, Martin and Martin again to help seal the win.

Tucker finished with 13 points, Boxley added 10 and Martin nine for Halifax, while Carter scored four points and Janiyah Logan three points.

Christina Harris led Person with 13 points, and Tylesha Smith and Tiana Hatchett added eight points apiece.

Neither team found it difficult to maintain any momentum on offense due to turnovers, with Halifax turning the ball over 21 times and Person 20.

“It’s the third time we’ve played this team this year, and they know what we can do,” said Comets Coach Wayne Murray.

“They came out at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter and made a good run at us, put some pressure on us and made us a little jumpy.

“I took that timeout and talked to them and said we needed to play under control and for Lexi to go and get the ball.

“You are the point guard, get the ball and handle it, and eventually they’ll have to foul you or someone will be wide open,” Murray told Tucker.

Turnovers stymied Person at the beginning of the game and at the end when they were scratching to get back into the game, according to Rockets Coach Ray Reaves

“We didn’t protect the ball and made bad decisions with it, he explained.

“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, but we did make a little bit of a run and picked up the defensive intensity a little bit and forced them to turn the ball over.

“It gave us a chance to get out and run a little bit, which is what we like to do.”

“I wasn’t real happy with our half court offensive sets, we didn’t execute very well, and part of that was the Halifax defense,” Reaves continued.

“They had someone in our face, and we would panic and make a bad decision.

“We never could get in a good flow, unless it started on the defensive end.

“When we’re out and running, we do fairly well, and we got some good looks and were able to finish and go to the free throw line.

“We had some opportunities, but we couldn’t take advantage of them.”

“We’re 7-5 right now, and I can honestly say there’s only been two games where I didn’t like the effort, and tonight was not one of them,” added Reaves.

“I was real proud of how they worked and fought until the end.”

The win was a big momentum boost for the Comets as they enter the heart of the Piedmont District schedule, commented Murray.

“The girls wanted this more than anything else since I’ve known them, they wanted to win this, and they went out with heart and desire,” he said. 

“They did exactly what we needed for them to do.”