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Defense spurs victory

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.

That was true for Halifax County High School in Tuesday night’s contest against Martinsville High School.

Using its defense to spur a 15-0 run that encompassed the last two minutes and 20 seconds of the third quarter and the first 1:15 of the fourth quarter, the Comets broke open a close game and defeated the Bulldogs 61-51 in a Piedmont District game at Martinsville.

“Our defense sparked everything we did,” noted Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly after the win that improved his team’s record to 11-3 overall and 6-1 in Piedmont District play.

“We got some steals, some rebounds, got some good kick-outs and got some easy baskets, and it turned the game for us.”

The big run took the Comets from a three-point lead at 34-31 to an 18-point bulge at 49-31 with 6:45 left in the game after back-to-back baskets from James Burden to start the fourth quarter.

While that was big, a factor that loomed every bit as large was the defensive play of Comets center Will Miller. 

Miller was given the task of defending Martinsville center Devonte Holland, who entered the game averaging well over 20 points per game in scoring. Holland had scored 31 points against the Comets when the two teams met earlier in the season at Halifax County High School, but Miller, with some help from his teammates, held Holland to 18 points.

“I fronted him the whole time and let my teammates get help-side,” Miller said.

“I just got in his face and tried not to let him get the ball. I got him frustrated and got into his head a little bit.”

Burden, who led the Comets in scoring with 16 points, half of which came in the fourth quarter, credited Miller with an outstanding job.

“He really did amazing on the big guy,” Burden remarked.

“He fronted him the whole game, and all he asked for was help on the help side.”

Miller’s effort was also well-noted by Epperly. 

“What a great job Will Miller did on their big center,” Epperly said.

“The kid averages about 25 points per game and he scored 31 on us the last time we played them. He (Miller) just battled him. He did the job. That really set the tone.”

Martinsville High School (9-5 overall) led only once in the game, that coming in the first five minutes of play. The game was close until the Comets made the big run in the third quarter, with Halifax County High School’s biggest lead up to that point being six points.

Halifax County High School held a nine-point 53-44 lead heading into the final two minutes of the contest and hit seven of 14 attempts from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the win.

Four Comets players reached double figures in the scoring column, with Burden leading the team with 16 points while snaring seven rebounds. Trelanne Johnson followed with 12 points and snagged a team-high nine rebounds. Tavion Petty, who connected on a trio of 3-point shots, finished with 11 points as did Keyshawn Johnson. Miller had six points in the game, with his total including one 3-point basket.