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Friday, May 6, 2016

Comets headed to state

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Sports Editor

The Alton Comets are district champions.

After knocking on the door several times during Coach Norman Hollis' 12-year tenure, the Comets kicked the door down March 6 with a 56-45 title-winning victory over the Thayer Bobcats in Dora.

Alton (26-2) also gained a measure of revenge over the Bobcats, as Thayer (18-10) had knocked the Comets off in last year's Class 2 District 9 title game.

The Comets, holding onto the number five ranking in Class 2 hoops, set the tempo for the game early as Kyle Willard (14 points) jacked back-to-back treys to get Alton rolling.

Alex Wiggs jumped in with five points, and when Clinton Hand (10 points) knocked down a 3-ball at the 2:00 mark of the first period, the Comets had sprinted out to a 16-4 lead.

Wiggs paced Alton with a game-high 16 points.

The Bobcats closed the gap a little late in the frame as Aaron Henry (13 points) rang up a triple, and Josh Wemlinger (10 points) chipped in with a deuce to pull Thayer closer, down 16-9 after one.

The Comets opened their biggest advantage of the first half, 24-13, at the 3:29 mark of the second period when Hand busted his second trey of the game.

Posting just four points and turning the ball over a couple of times right before the half, the third-seeded Bobcats were facing an 11-point deficit at intermission.

Wemlinger, held to just two points in the first half, heated up some in the third by posting six points in the frame.

Taking a nice feed from John Tollenaar, Wemlinger slid baseline for a dunk, but the Bobcats still trailed 29-17.

Ending the period with Willard's third trey of the game, and a tipin by Wiggs at the buzzer, Alton took a 38-26 lead into the final period.

The Bobcats did manage to cut Alton's margin to nine, 51-42, on back-to-back treys by Henry and Brett Ward (nine points), but the Comets tossed in 10 points from the charity stripe in the game's final 2:20 to post their second win over Thayer this season, and in the process, grab the district title and advance to this week's state sectionals at Marshfield.

The loss keeps the Bobcats from a shot at returning to the Final Four in Columbia, where they ended up in third place in the state last season.

Bryan Joiner added eight points for Alton, while Justin Crews finished with seven, including five late free throws, and Greg Campbell one.

Andrew Eckman logged 11, and Jesse Gaines two for the Bobcats.

Alton started district tournament play with an 80-35 rout of Seymour March 1.

Up 41-16 at the half, the Comets cruised to a first-round win behind 17 points, seven boards and eight steals from Wiggs.

Hand tallied 15, and Willard 13 for Alton.

In the semi-finals March 4, the Comets finished off Mansfield 68-57, with Wiggs and Crews kicking in 17 points apiece.

Willard and Hand chipped in 11 each, while Joiner and Campbell logged six points apiece.

The Bobcats smoked Summersville 56-31 in opening round action March 1, jumping out to an 18-0 lead after the first period.

Wemlinger paced Thayer with 19 points, while Ward added 15. Henry tossed in eight, while Eckman added five. Jesse Gaines scored three, with Layne Hawkins, Tollenaar and Dustin Gaines posting two points each.

Thayer advanced to the finals against Alton with a tight 47-43 overtime win over Norwood March 4.

Tied at 37-all after regulation play, the Bobcats outscored Norwood 10-6 in the extra frame to escape with the win.

Andrew Eckman had a big game for Thayer, leading the Bobcats with 15 points.

Ward added 12, while Henry and Wemlinger finished with seven points each. Hawkins chipped in with four, and Jesse Gaines two.

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