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HCHS crushes Tunstall 75-37 in district contest

Playing hard, rebounding the ball, hitting quick outlet passes and running a solid transition have been hallmarks of the Halifax County High School varsity boys basketball team.

The Comets slipped away from that formula the past couple of games and the results weren’t pretty.

Monday night the Comets returned to being their normal selves, and the result was a crushing 75-37 win over Tunstall High School at Halifax County High School.

“I bragged on this team all season about how hard they play,” noted Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly.

“We (coaches) watched a lot of tape Sunday, and what we found was the thing that was missing the last two games was that we didn’t play as hard as we had been playing earlier. Tonight we got back to playing hard.”

That was bad news for Tunstall High School.

The Comets (13-5 overall, 7-3 Piedmont District) gained control of the game early and used back-to-back baskets from Trelanne Johnson and Tavion Petty in the last 33 seconds of the first quarter to take a 19-11 lead at the end of the quarter.

After Tunstall’s Will McCraw sank a layup on the Trojans’ opening possession of the second quarter, the Comets hit full speed. Mixing in their transition game, the Comets scored on five of their first six possession of the quarter to generate a 12-0 run that resulted in a 31-13 lead with 5:07 left in the first half. 

At that point, it was game over.

Trelanne Johnson started the run with a pair of free throws. James Smith Jr. and Keyshawn Johnson followed with back-to-back 3-pointers, Trelanne Johnson sank a layup off of a steal and James Burden slipped inside for an easy basket.

Halifax County High School led 38-22 at halftime but quickly extended its cushion at the start of the third quarter with a 3-pointer from Keyshawn Johnson and a layup from Petty that produced a 43-22 lead. 

A 9-0 Comets run that started near the mid-point of the quarter put the Comets up 56-26 with 2:06 left in the third quarter. After that, the Comets reserves that had not been in the game up to that point were shuffled onto the floor to finish the game.

“It was good to see guys competing and having fun,” Epperly said.

“It was a good effort. We executed and did some good things out there tonight.”

A good defensive effort generated by a recovery of intensity took its toll on Tunstall High School.

“We forced some turnovers and were switching and really made it difficult for them (Tunstall High School) to find shots,” Epperly explained.

“Every time they ran a screen and came off of it, we were right there waiting on them. We just had more intensity, more passion and played the way we have played most of the season. I was happy to see it.”

The Comets also got back on track offensively. After having struggled with shooting the past two games, the Comets were much sharper, as evidenced by the fact they hit six of 18 attempts from the 3-point arc and had only 10 turnovers in the contest.

Tunstall High School, by comparison, was 0-9 and turned the ball over 19 times.

Ten of the 12 Comets players scored in the game, with Keyshawn Johnson leading the team in scoring with 13 points. Petty followed with 12 points, Burden chipped in 10 points and Quentin Jennings scored nine points in a reserve role.

It was a performance that has Epperly believing the team is back on track.

“I think we will be fine from here on out,” he remarked. 

“I’m really happy with the effort and the execution we saw tonight. We’ve got some tough games coming up. I think we’re focused and ready to get back on track.”