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It was another close call for the No. 5 Velma-Alma Comets, but they managed to survive again.
Against No. 11 Pond Creek-Hunter in the regional finals Saturday night in Agra, the Comets managed to overcome a slow third quarter performance and put themselves one game away from the state tournament with a 45-41 victory over the Panthers.
“We came out and played really well,” V-A coach Kenny Bare said. “I thought we did a fantastic job defensively. We had way too many unforced turnovers, but we managed to overcome them. Pond Creek-Hunter is a very good team and they battled us tonight. We’re where we want to be and that’s in the area tournament in the winner’s bracket.”
After holding on to a 10-6 advantage following the first quarter, the Comets went into the halftime break with a 26-13 advantage over the Panthers.
However, PCH got back in the game in the third quarter, outscoring V-A 12-5 and cutting the lead to six points at 31-25.
But, like true playoff veterans Velma-Alma answered the call and held off a late rally in the fourth to book its place in the Area Championship game against undefeated and No. 2 ranked Glencoe (27-0) Friday night Feb. 22 from Stroud High School.
Dallen Mercer paced the Comets (23-3) with 17 points on the night with Jaz Gayanich adding 15 points. Conner Sullivan put in seven points with Checotah Lynn and Zac Cable each putting in three points.
PCH 61 VELMA-ALMA 35
Unfortunately, lightning didn’t strike twice for the Lady Comets.
Just two days after upsetting No. 9 New Lima, V-A tried to take down No. 5 Pond Creek-Hunter in the regional championship.
The Lady Panthers were in no mood to become an upset victim as they used a strong second half performance to overwhelm the Lady Comets and claim the regional championship.
“We started the game off strong leading 7-0,” V-A coach Jerry Garrett said. “Then they (Pond Creek-Hunter) came out and got a run on us. They had a really strong point guard that was extremely hard to control out there. Pond Creek-Hunter is a good team and we just ran out of gas tonight.”
PCH (23-3) took a 28-22 lead going into the halftime break, after the first quarter finished 16-16.
A 33-13 scoring advantage in the second half was too much for the Lady Comets (19-7) to overcome on the night.
Ariah Johnson led the scoring with 15 points followed by Teddi Southerland with nine points.
“We can’t get down on this loss,” Garrett said. “One of our goals was to make the area tournament and we’re in that position now. I think we can go down to Stroud next week and make some noise for ourselves.”
Velma-Alma will play Davenport in the first round of the area tournament on Thursday Feb. 21 at 1:30 p.m. from Stroud High School.