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‘Second season’ begins Tuesday

The real post-season begins Tuesday for the Halifax County High School varsity boys basketball team.

Halifax County High School, the top seed, will host fourth seed Orange County High School Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Halifax County High School in a semi-final game of the Conference 16 Boys Basketball Tournament.

For the Comets and the three other Conference 16 schools, there is a new urgency in that from here out, a loss means the end of the season. 

“It all comes down to Tuesday,” said Comets Head Coach Larry Epperly, whose team stands 17-7 overall heading into the Conference 16 semi-finals.

“It’s real clear what happens now. It all comes down to Tuesday. If you win Tuesday, you play Friday (in the Conference 16 championship game). If you lose Tuesday, you pack everything up and you’re done. You’ve got to keep winning.”

If the Comets defeat Orange County High School in Tuesday night’s Conference 16 Tournament opener, they will host the Conference 16 Tournament championship game on Friday, where they will face the winner of Tuesday’s game between Albemarle High School of Charlottesville and Patrick Henry High School of Ashland.

A win Tuesday guarantees that the Comets will play at least two more games as it will give the Comets a berth in the 5A North Region Tournament, which opens Monday, Feb. 25.

The Comets head into Tuesday night’s game having won five of their last seven starts. Both losses have come at the hands of arch-rival GW-Danville, the last coming this past Tuesday night at Bassett High School in the semi-finals of the Piedmont District Tournament.

Halifax County High School had opportunities to pull out the win over the course of the last couple of minutes of the game, but was unable to make the right play at the right time down the stretch.

Unlike previous years when a team’s outcome in the district tournament determined whether or not it advanced to the next level of post-season play, with the new Virginia High School League alignments that took effect at the start of this school year, district tournament outcomes have no bearing on post-season advancement.

Still, the Comets would have liked nothing better than to have beaten GW for a second time this season when they squared off in last Tuesday’s district tournament semi-final game.

“It was definitely not a throw-away game,” Epperly pointed out.

“You always want to win every game. You want to compete. We tried to get it done. We just didn’t make the plays we needed to make at the end.”

Epperly said in the wake of Tuesday night’s loss he and the team were going to have to get some work done prior to Tuesday night’s Conference 16 semi-final game against Orange County High School.

“There is no time now for error,” Epperly pointed out.

“We’re going to have to bounce back. We’ve got to shore up some things. When you get to this time of the year you had better have some things figured out.”

Thus far, it has been a stellar season for the Comets, who became the first Halifax County High School boys basketball team to win 16 games during the regular-season in 11 years.

“We’ve had a chance to win every game,” noted Epperly.

“Two of the losses were in overtime. We were a shot, a rebound, a free throw away from having 20 wins.”

Halifax County High School has achieved its success with what has primarily been a seven-player rotation in the lineup. And, it hasn’t been a case where one particular player has been the dominant force on the floor.

A prime example was last week’s game against GW. Four of the six Comets players that saw action in the game scored, and all of them scored in double figures.

“This isn’t a one-person team,” pointed out Comets guard Tavion Petty.

“That’s how we’ve made it this far. We just keep doing our thing with teamwork. We’re going to do all we can do to go as far as we can.

“We really don’t have one player that is going to go out there and get us 20 points every night,” added Comets senior forward Trelanne Johnson.

“We’ve got a good team where everybody can take up the load. Whenever their number is called, everybody can step up and get the job done.”