SHARPSVILLE — It was quite the shootout. Bombs were easy come, easy go and the last guy standing didn’t emerge until the final standoff.

The Eastern Comets staged what was quite likely their best overall performance of the season here Friday night and had the host Tri-Central Trojans dead in their sights for most of four quarters but then went down in a haze of TC gunfire in the fourth period to drop a 64-53 decision on TC’s senior night.

Eastern senior guard Braden Gibson and junior sidekick Noah Cope put on devil of a show in the first three segments — Gibson meshing four treys and Cope adding three — as the Comets ran the show with leads of 13-9, 26-20 and 41-35 at quarter breaks in an eye-popping, 13-of-25 shooting display.

The Trojans appeared totally out of sync via wretched 11-of-29 shooting in those three cantos including five missed layups, 10 turnovers and a 16-13 rebound deficit. They also frittered away chances to score via unforced errors, and their defense was just spacious enough to let Gibson and Cope run free. And ever-busy 6-2 sophomore Jacob Kinder, who jolted Hamilton Heights for 20 last week, had three hoops for Eastern despite a collapsing Trojan defense that gave him little room to operate.

The big turnaround came in a flash came at the start of the fourth quarter. Trailing, 41-35, TC sophomore Dillon Smith grabbed the reins and stashed a trey; Bryce Dowell cut it to 42-40, and with 5:09 showing Garrett Dick canned two freebies to give the Trojans a 44-42 edge, their first since the first period.

From there the Trojans picked up steam with Dowell, Seth Blunck, Cody Howell, Dalton Davis, Garrett Dick and Smith going on an 11-2 rampage. The Comets were bankrupt the first 4:08 of the quarter and didn’t phase the nets again until Gibson hit two freebies at 1:46 by which time it was a 55-46 Trojan cinch.

Make no mistake, Smith was the catalyst that saved the Trojans with a dominating nine-point third act and seven in the fourth. Overall, he nailed 8 of 11 shots including 5 of 6 3-pointers, added two freebies and six rebounds and fed Dowell perfectly on breakaways for three crucial baskets.

“We missed a bunch of layups in the first quarter and let them get separation,” TC coach Kyle Zahn said. “We’d make a run, and they’d hit a three. But we finally broke through in the fourth quarter.

“We were too risky on offense the first half instead of making the simple play, and our defense lacked focus. But give Eastern credit, they shot very well. Through it all Dillon was the spark plug with those 23 points and six rebounds. But Bryce, who has become a consistent player, also had a huge fourth quarter and was a big part of that run.

“I have to give credit to our three seniors, Blunck, Dick and Davis, have been three-year starters who’ve given so much to our program.”

Eastern coach Mike Springer saw his Comets (3-17) fall for the fourth straight time and ninth in the last 10 outings.

“We’re getting better every day which is our goal,” he said. “I have to give our kids credit because with only three wins they still work hard every day. We have some good kids coming, and we’ll get there.

“TC is a physical team, more so than us, and that makes a big difference as it did [Friday], and we couldn’t match it. As to Gibson and Cope, they are great shooters and very competitive. And that Smith, does she always shoot like that? He surprised us.”

Dowell had 11 points and Davis 10 in support of Smith, and Howell added nine. Gibson finished with 18 but had just one hoop the last half. Cope added 11 and Kinder had nine but also one lone basket the last 16 minutes.

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