Since losing in the Black Diamond Championship, the Velma-Alma Comets have used their offensive power to get seven straight wins including Tuesday’s 72-51 victory over the Alex Longhorns.
Jace Saville normally wears number 11 but with the permission of his coach Kenny Bare, he decided to change numbers for one night and honor Lakers legend Kobe Bryant who passed away Sunday by wearing number 24 and started off leading his team with some huge points in the first quarter.
Morgan Cox hit the first basket and after Alex tied the ball game up, Saville hit the next three buckets including two from beyond the arc to take the 10-5 lead over the Longhorns.
Cooper Keck was able to extend the lead with a basket of his own while hitting two free throws at the end of the first quarter to take the 14-10 lead over Alex.
Chase Byrne for the Longhorns got his first big three pointer of the game to cut the lead to one point when Tristan Wainscott joined the action with a three bucket of his own early in the second quarter.
Austin Hunt and Tyler Stewart got buckets in the second quarter with Stewart getting an and-one bucket opportunity to put the Comets up by 12 points midway through the second quarter.
Cox hit a bucket and Hunt hit his second of the quarter putting the Comets ahead 27-22 going into the second half of action.
In the third quarter both team’s offense started to hit their shots with Cox being the biggest culprit for the Comets as he went a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.
Stewart, Wainscott and Hunt hit three point shots while trying to withstand Byrne who scored all of the Longhorns 18 points in the quarter with four shots coming from beyond the arc.
Despite Byrne’s shooting the Comets held the lead throughout the quarter and even extended with a nine point lead heading to the fourth quarter with two players going head-to-head.
Stewart was a perfect 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter and along with Saville’s four free throw attempts going into the hoop the Comets were able to cruise to victory by a wide margin.
Stewart led the way with 20 points, Cox had 16 points, Saville scored 13 points while Wainscott and Hunt had seven points apiece and Keck had four points for the Comets.
Bare said he was proud of the way his team handled the game and was pleased to see them get the victory in a game that meant a lot to him and the players.
“It was an ugly first half, it really was. I just told them we got a pretty good squad and we are coming off a big tournament win. We just wanted it to be over at halftime,” Bare said. “We talked about some things at halftime and in the second half we played really well offensively. Their kid got hot from the three point line and kept them close, within striking range, until the middle of the fourth quarter. I was just proud of the adjustment we made at halftime and the kids effort in the second half and proud of their effort.”
The tribute that Saville made by changing his number was something that Bare was more than happy to approve and said he knew what Bryant meant to the game of basketball in general.
“He wanted to do that kind of a tribute to Kobe. What a shocker Sunday for everybody when he has been out of the game however long he has been and you hear something like that, I think I’m the average person and I about teared up,” Bare said. “The way it happened with his daughter and you hear all the stuff. Jace wanted to do that and I had a freshman do that last night in Crue Garrett who wore it last night. He scored 22 points, almost had 24 points, and had a big win. That is something Jace wanted to do and I was all for it and he wanted to do it at home.”
The Comets are now 17-2 on the year and will play at home starting at 8 p.m. this Friday against Healdton before heading on the road for two road games next week.