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Comets reach 15-win milestone

One night after a tough loss to its archrival and losing its starting point guard with a back injury, the Halifax County High School varsity boys basketball team reached a significant milestone.

Overcoming a slow start, the Comets pulled away in the second half and downed Patrick County High School 69-47 Tuesday night in Stuart to log their 15th win of the season.

The last time a Halifax County High School boys basketball team had won that many games in a season was the 2001-2002 season when the Comets went 16-5 in regular-season play only to see the season end with a loss in the district tournament semi-finals.

“I’m really happy for our players,” said Halifax County High School Head Coach Larry Epperly.

“It’s a district win, a conference win, a road win, just a lot of positives. We have a group of guys that have been working really hard the last couple of years. For them to get 15 wins and see this program grow and see the progress we’ve made is something to be proud of. 

“I’m happy for this year’s seniors because they have been a large part of turning this thing around and getting us going in the right direction,” Epperly added.

“I feel really good about where we are and where we’re going.”

The Comets got double-figure scoring from four players, with Trelanne Johnson leading the team with 17 points, scoring often from deep in the paint. Johnson also logged five assists and three steals in the game.

“I was just cutting hard, and James was finding me just about every play,” Johnson said.

“Keyshawn is a really talented guard. He (Smith) and Keyshawn battle every day in practice. When Keyshawn went out, he (Smith) stepped up and toted the load tonight.”

James Burden scored 15 points for the Comets, with 12 of them coming in the first half. Burden, like Johnson, blistered the Patrick County High School defense deep in the paint.

Smith produced a double double, scoring 11 points and tallying 11 assists and three steals. Will Miller scored 11 points, all in the second half, to round out the Comets’ double-digit scorers.

With starter Keyshawn Johnson sidelined as the result of a lower back injury he sustained in Monday’s game against GW, Smith took on the role of point guard and gave the Comets a solid effort. His crisp passing allowed Johnson and Burden to score multiple baskets deep in the paint. 

That, and a good defensive effort in the second half that limited the Cougars to just 10 points in both the third and fourth quarters gave the Comets the ammunition they needed to secure the win.

The first half was something of a struggle for the Comets. 

Despite bolting to a quick 8-2 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the game, Patrick County battled back, and with an 8-0 run, took an 18-15 lead with 1:13 left in the first period and led 18-17 after the first eight minutes of play.

The lead swapped hands three times in the first minute and a half of the second quarter, with a basket from Burden deep in the paint putting the Comets back up 21-20 with 7:10 left in the first half.

Halifax County High School led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, and led 35-27 at the halftime break. 

A three-point play by Trelanne Johnson with 6:48 left in the third quarter put the Comets back up by 10 points. That play started a 6-0 Comets run that gave them a 41-28 lead with 5:55 left in the quarter.

The Comets began to pull away after that, and led 55-37 entering the fourth quarter. A 7-2 run by the Comets to start the fourth quarter gave the Comets a 62-39 lead and effectively sealed the win.

“We played really hard last night (Monday night against GW) and we still had to play a lot of people a lot of minutes tonight,” Epperly pointed out.

“We just hung around, and in the second half we shut them down defensively.”