- Last Updated on 11:39 PM 01/17/14
- BY Joe Chandler
To say that Halifax County High School Head Coach Larry Epperly was upset would be a vast understatement.
A missed call on a last-second fall-away shot by Franklin County High School's De'Andre Kellam that was counted as a 3-pointer by the officials despite one of Kellam's feet being inside the 3-point arc allowed the Eagles to tie the game at 63-63 at the end of regulation.
Franklin County High School then wrestled the game away from the Comets in the last minute and a half of the four-minute overtime period and edged the Comets 75-71 In a key Piedmont District game Friday night at Halifax County High School.
"My heart aches for our kids," Epperly said.
"They deserved to win. We have the videotape. I have not said one word this season about the officiating. The (Franklin County) kid that threw the "three" in at the end (of regulation) clearly made a "two." How three guys can miss that call is amazing.
"In the heat of battle you know they (Franklin County) are down by three (points) and you know they've got to go for a "three" and you should be watching that," Epperly continued.
"We have it on tape and the kid straddled the line. He was off-balance and he banked it (the shot) in. It clearly was not a "three" and we should have won the game by one point. What is so disappointing is that our kids deserve better. To let an official decide the game is not fair, I don't think. It's just uncalled for for three guys officiating a game to miss that call."
The Comets trailed 60-56 when Keyshawn Johnson, who led the Comets in scoring with 18 points, nailed a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left in regulation to make it a one-point game at 60-59. Trelanne Johnson came up with his fifth steal of the game and was fouled. He converted both ends of a one-one opportunity with 23 seconds left to put the Comets up 61-60.
A key rebound by Tavion Petty and a subsequent foul by the Eagles led to Petty hitting one of two free throw attempts with 9.1 seconds left to put the Comets up 62-60. The Comets' Will Miller intercepted an Eagles pass with 1.8 seconds left and was immediately fouled. He hit one of two free throw attempts to put the Comets up 63-60.
Franklin County High School players quickly got the ball to Kellam, who threw up an off-balance shot that connected for what was ruled as a game-tying 3-point shot as the buzzer sounded at the end of regulation.
Halifax County High School led once at the start of the overtime period on a layup by Petty, but did not lead again after the Eagles' Brandon Kellam hit a layup with 1:36 left to give the Eagles a 69-67 edge. The Comets fell behind by four points after B. Kellam hit a pair of free throws with 1:05 left, and the closest they got after that was when Keyshawn Johnson hit a basket with 57.5 seconds left to make it a two-point game at 71-69.
"It's real hard to take," Keyshawn Johnson said of the loss.
"We lost to them (Franklin County) up there and we wanted this game for second place (in the district standings).
The Comets guard said he felt like his team still had a good shot to win heading into the overtime period.
"The score was even, so anybody had a chance to win," he pointed out.
"The difference was defense. We gave up a couple of easy baskets."
Four Comets players were in double digits in the scoring column, with Keyshawn Johnson's 18-point effort leading the team. Petty followed with 15 points and Trelanne Johnson chipped in 13 points while logging a team-high seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Miller, who connected on three 3-point shots in the game, finished with 10 points.
The Comets broke away to an early 11-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game only to see the Eagles rally to deadlock the game at 13-13 at the end of the first quarter. After that, the lead swapped hands 13 times before the game ended in a deadlock at the end of regulation.
Both teams hit seven of 19 attempts from the 3-point arc. Franklin County High School had 22 turnovers in the game, while the Comets had 21.
The Comets were 18-31 at the free throw line, while Franklin County High School hit 12 of 17 attempts from the charity stripe.