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February 16, 2014

Comets dominate district finals

VELMA — VELMA – Senior Teddi Southerland and the rest of the Velma-Alma girls basketball team came out on fire in its 56-24 win against Vanoss Saturday.

Southerland was in rhythm from the beginning and scored eight of the Lady Comets’ first 10 points. At the end of the first quarter, Velma-Alma was well on its way to a business-like district final win, up 14-5.

“Everyone goes into the playoffs and has some nerves,” Southerland said. “Once I hit that first shot the nerves settled down, and then after the second shot they went away.”

In the second quarter, senior Ariah Johnson started to take over. Her 10 points in that quarter helped the Comets to a 28-8 halftime lead. She finished with 22 points overall, without scoring in the fourth.

Coach Kenny Bare said the key was the team’s defense. The eight points were on pace to be the second time the Comets have held an opponent to less than 20 points this season. The last time was in a 59-14 victory at Fox on Jan. 28.

“They had a hard time getting a good look,” Bare said “That dictated the whole game.”

It was the 14th straight victory for a team that had started the season 4-4. The Comets will play the winner of Sterling versus Fletcher at home Thursday for a trip to the second round of regional.

“Our nerves are gone and we’re ready to play,” Southerland said. “We’re so motivated from one game to the other.”

The Velma-Alma boys team came out with the same intensity in its district final, leading Vanoss 51-19 at halftime.

In the 85-38 victory, a bunch of Comets got in a groove offensively. Sophomore Ryan Ross started things off with an 11-point first quarter. Senior Jaz Gayanich picked up where he left off in the second and finished the half with 20. Bare said was the start the Comets needed after having gone just 4-3 in their last seven games.

“Tonight starts a new season,” Bare said. “We put all of that in the past. I hope we learn from it and we wanted to focus all of our energy on district and against Vanoss.”

Bare said earlier in the year he had been hoping for Ross to take on more of the scoring burden. The point guard finished with 20 points, but still able to facilitate anytime one of his teammates was open.

“When he gets his confidence up, he can do anything,” Beck said. “The point guard manages the offense and if you don’t have a good offense, you’re not going to do well.”

The 85 points were the most the Comets have scored this season.

Senior Alan Beck also topped his usual scoring output. Bare said, at times this season, he seemed hesitant to put up three-point attempts. Saturday night, he made two long bombs and finished with 10 points.

“It’s all the work he has put in over the last 12 years,” Bare said. “He’s ready to step up and hit some big shots. They went in for him, and they’re going to do nothing but help his confidence.”

The Velma-Alma boys will host No. 11 Fletcher Thursday, which beat Sterling 36-29 on Saturday.

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