After falling behind 25-7 in the second quarter, Bassett rallied to within one point in the fourth quarter but eventually ran out of time in a 62-54 loss to Halifax on Friday at BHS.
“Five more minutes and we would have won that basketball game,” Kellam said. “Five more minutes.”
He might be right.
Halifax (2-3) lost its most effective player on a floor with 2:32 remaining in the game. Dakota Delaware, a 6-foot-2 forward, fouled out with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Delaware came off the bench and hadn’t scored more than 10 points prior to Friday’s game.
But after the Comets started the fourth quarter by making five of their first six shots, losing that advantage in the paint allowed Bassett (0-5) to cut into Halifax’s lead.
Just not enough.
The Bengals cut the lead to five points in the final minutes but couldn’t fully close the gap.
“Bassett made some tough shots on us,” Halifax coach Larry Epperly said. “That’s what happens — you get behind and get a little desperate and start putting some stuff up, and all of a sudden it goes in and you get a little momentum. We didn’t think they could continue to hit a high percentage on those shots and, lo and behold, the last two minutes they didn’t make any of them.”
Bassett was closest to catching Halifax late in third quarter when it got to within one point of HCHS’ lead. Halifax led the Bengals 41-38 after three quarters.
“I felt like we were turning the corner in the third quarter. I felt like we were turning it in the fourth quarter,” Bassett coach Jarrell Jones said. “It just didn’t happen. We told them just now, ‘You can’t dig yourself that hole and then burn your whole tank of gas and think you’re going to have enough left.’”
That’s exactly the issue the Bengals ran into Friday.
The Bengals were 2-for-15 from the floor in the first quarter, missed a few layups and blew several other good opportunities by simply mishandling passes.
Then, already trailing 12-5 after the first quarter, Halifax went on a 13-2 run to start the second period. The Bengals were in an 18-point hole, and it wasn’t even halftime. If it weren’t for a late-first half push, Bassett would have been in bad shape — especially with 16 turnovers in the first 16 minutes of the game.
Kellam, who paced the Bengals with 17 points and eight assists, said BHS was uncharacteristically sloppy to start the game.
“I’m going to take the blame for that, because I didn’t have my team ready to play, so I’ll take the blame for that,” Kellam said. “The way we came out, we didn’t come out ready. We turned up the second quarter. We need to play hard for all four quarters to win basketball games.”
Jones thought the Bengals played some of their best basketball of the season in the late second and third quarters.
“The effort turned up a little bit and the energy,” Jones said. “We started attacking the rim, and we made some adjustments and went after it a little harder than earlier. That’s all it was.”
Bassett also got more aggressive on the glass during the run. Dashaun Valentine, DeVontae Wimbush and Justin Jones all grabbed a few offensive rebounds and scored some second-chance points. Valentine led the Bengals with 10 rebounds and was one point shy of a double-double.
As close as Bassett got, BHS could never hit the bucket to give it the lead.
And the Bengals know it would have been much easier had they not fallen so far behind so early.
“We were rushing things,” Valentine said. “We were throwing to a spot and not the person who wasn’t looking before we passed. We were hoping somebody was going to be there, and we were rushing too much. Once we slowed it down, we started making big buckets and made a comeback.”
Despite the loss, the Bengals said they saw improvements in their execution.
Jones expects that to continue.
“We played pretty good at Dan River, but that was the best effort and energy I’ve seen from our guys this year,” Jones said.
“We’re getting better and making improvements. We’ve got to make sure our effort is consistent the whole night.”
Halifax County 62,
HCHS 12 19 10 21 — 62
BHS 5 15 18 16 — 54
HCHS: D. Delaware 20, T. Petty 13, T. Johnson 9, J. Burden 9, K. Johnson 8, K. Tucker 2, E. Morrison 1; BHS: D. Kellam 17, D. Valentine 9, J. Jones 9, D. Wimbush 8, D. Martin 8, T. Koger 3.