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Comets rebound to edge Gretna

After having lost two games in a row, a win by any means was a good thing for the Halifax County High School varsity boys basketball team.

The Comets got a pair of 3-pointers from Tavion Petty at just the right time in the fourth quarter and held on to edge Gretna High School 53-44 Saturday night in a non-district game at Halifax County Middle School.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Petty said in terms of getting his shooting prowess back on track.

The Comets’ guard canned four 3-pointers in the game, two of them in a span of 39 seconds in the fourth quarter to lift the Comets to a 51-40 lead with 3:17 left that allowed them to gain control of the game.

“It’s all about who is going to step up in clutch moments,” Petty said.

“You get that basket to get the lead up to double digits. That’s all it takes, and you can take it from there.”

While the Comets defeated the Hawks in the non-district game to snap a two-game losing streak and improve their season record to 12-5 overall and 6-3 in Piedmont District play, it wasn’t the caliber of performance that the Comets had been staging up until the last couple of weeks.

The Comets had beaten Gretna High School by 44 points when they met in the first round of the Gazette-Virginian Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament.

“The bottom line is we came into tonight’s game needing badly to win,” noted Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly.

“We got the win, so we’re pleased with that. When the game was on the line we executed and made some plays.”

The Comets led 12-8 at the end of the first quarter, only to see the Hawks tied the game at 20-20 with 2:21 left in the first half. Treyvon Brandon hit the second of his pair of 3-point shots in the quarter with 2:08 left to put the Comets up 23-20. Johnson scored five of his seven second-quarter points in the last 48 seconds of the half to give the Comets a 28-22 lead at halftime. 

Gretna never led in the second half, but, at the same time, the Comets were not able to take the Hawks out of contention despite holding a nine-point cushion twice in the third quarter.

The Hawks cut the Comets’ lead to four points at 42-38 with a basket to kick off the fourth quarter and were within five points at 45-40 with just over six and half minutes left in the game.

After a scoring drought of almost three minutes by both teams, Petty broke the Comets out of the scoring doldrums with his back-to-back 3-point shots that spurred the Comets to an 11-point cushion.

While the Comets got scores at the right moment, there were concerns remaining on the defensive side. Gretna High School was able to score some easy baskets to keep itself in the game at times when the Comets were on the cusp of knocking the Hawks out of contention.

“Our defense is a little farther back from where we started at the beginning of the season,” remarked Trelanne Johnson, who had a six-point night for the Comets.

“We’ve got to step it up.”

Petty concurred.

“Defense is a constant,” Petty said.

“Your offense might not always be there, but the defense has to be there every night if you’re going to win.”

Petty led the Comets in scoring with 16 points and James Burden followed with 10 points. Brandon chipped in eight points in the winning effort.

The Comets, in a little bit of a slump with two losses in their last three outings, have three big Piedmont District games on tap this week. Halifax County High School faces Tunstall High School tonight, Bassett High School on Tuesday night, and arch-rival GW on Friday night, all at home at Halifax County High School.

“We’ve got a big week this week,” said Epperly, whose team stands 12-5 overall and 6-3 in Piedmont District play.

“I think once we get back home Monday we will be fine. We’ve got a good home stretch coming. If we can take care of business this next week, I think we’ll be in good shape.”