Martinsville and Halifax played a high-scoring contest in South Boston earlier this season, a game in which the Comets got the best of the Bulldogs in decisive fashion.
On Tuesday, the two teams played a low-scoring affair that was much more in Martinsville’s comfort zone, and the Bulldogs came away with a 46-39 at Martinsville Middle School.
Martinsville coach Jeff Adkins said the Comets "handled us pretty good" in the first contest between the two teams, a game in which Halifax won 73-51 in South Boston earlier this season. Tuesday, the Bulldogs did a better job competing, and it was the defense that helped slow the Halifax offense.
"We just competed. We're trying to score, and they're trying to score. The tempo was even faster here than down there," Adkins said of the previous contest. "They're (Halifax) just so fundamentally sound, they're so strong, they're very physical."
After the two teams finished the first quarter tied 9-9, Martinsville sophomore Jahiem Niblett came off the bench and made an immediate impact, scoring 10 points in the second quarter. Niblett grabbed a steal under the basket and drove the length of the court before getting a buzzer-beating layup to put the Bulldogs up 23-15 at the half.
The Bulldogs’ lead only grew from there, getting to double-digits and as high as 11 in the third. Halifax tried to keep it close, with the Comets hitting a basket of their own at the buzzer to make it 32-26 heading into the fourth.
Halifax twice cut the Bulldogs’ lead to four early in the final frame, and made it two,41-39, after an offensive rebound and putback with 1:15 to play.
Martinsville’s Troy Brandon, Jahil Martin, and Jeremiah Law each hit one of two free throws to help Martinsville keep the lead. Lemuel Jones helped seal the win, grabbing a steal at midcourt and driving to the basket before finding Brandon underneath the rim, where Brandon put through a contested layup for the final seven point lead with just a few seconds left on the clock.
"They were starting to wear us down a little bit late," Adkins said. "I had to use my timeouts. I saved my timeouts for late and we just had a little burst left to pull away at the end."
Brandon finished with a double-double, scoring a game-high 15 points with 10 rebounds. Niblett added 14 points, nine rebounds, and two blocked shots. Law had 11 points and three assists.
The Comets came into Tuesday’s game with a 14-2 record after starting the season 14-0. The Comets were the top team in the Piedmont District, but Tuesday’s loss gives them two losses in the PD. Martinsville’s 7-2 record in the PD is tops in the district. Halifax’s falls to 6-2 in the PD.
"It was just a great defensive effort from both teams," Adkins said. "We played great defense, they played great defense, and it was just a low scoring game. I love that type of game. I thought we played very smart, I thought we played hard, but we really played well. Our offense was much crisper. We didn't force it, we jumped stopped better, we didn't turn the ball over as much. It was just fun to watch."
Martinsville improves to 12-4 on the year, and extends its current winning streak to eight games.
The Bulldogs will next go on the road to Ridgeway for a Saturday contest against Magna Vista. The boys game is the second in a girls/boys varsity doubleheader, and is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m.