Tuesday night, with former Blue Devils star Mac McClung sporting high-tops for Georgetown and 34-points-per-game scorer Zac Ervin dressed in a necktie and sitting on the Gate City bench, Bradley Dean played next man up and led the defending VHSL Class 2 champions to a rousing victory.
Dean, a gifted 6-foot-2 guard with terrific tools, outscored Wise Central by himself, pouring in 40 points in a 61-36 Mountain 7 District victory.
“Bradley Dean, how good is he?” Gate City coach Scott Vermillion wondered.
The slick junior hit 15 of 26 shots from the floor, including four 3-point bombs, and 6 of 6 free throws despite being dogged all over the floor by Central, which obviously had no answer.
“It was a little different for sure,” Dean said. “I mean, this was the first high school game I’ve played without Mac or Zac out there.
“I got a little winded there in the second half, but I’m all right. I stepped up and I thought pretty much everyone on the team stepped up to pick up the slack.”
Central (11-6, 4-3) stayed with Gate City (15-2, 8-0) for much of the first half and actually led 21-18 when the game turned midway in the second quarter.
With Dean scoring on five of six trips down the floor and Jon Compton nailing a 3-point jumper, the Blue Devils scored the last 14 points of the half.
Up 32-21 at halftime, Dean then scored the first nine points of the third quarter, and the 23-0 run left Gate City leading 41-21 with 1:44 left in the period.
“I’m tickled for guys who have been used to screening and passing and cutting over the last couple years now getting a chance to shoot it and score,” said Vermillion, who received eight points from Compton. “Things that we’ve done for years we continue to do.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have some really great players over the years, but the program is still the same and the process is still the same for us even after these great players come and go.”
Ervin, a 6-5 Wofford signee who has over 2,200 career points, found out over the weekend that he would be taking some time off to rest up and hopefully heal a knee problem. No surgery is scheduled.
“It’s a minor thing and he could play right now,” Vermillion said. “But that wouldn’t be the wisest thing for his health.
“This is a wonderful game and this is a wonderful community, but this is a young man with a basketball future and we’ve got to do the right thing for him. We’re going to allow him to get better before we play him again.”
The Warriors, who received 12 points from Elijah Hayes and 11 from Ben Stallard, committed a whopping 24 turnovers.
LADY WARRIORS RULE
Two-time defending state champion Central (13-4, 6-1) won a big road game to remain atop the Mountain 7 standings, 54-39.
The Lady Blue Devils (11-6, 4-4) had their way through the first three quarters, but the Lady Warriors asserted themselves in the fourth and won going away.
Down 19-16 at halftime and 29-28 heading into the final frame, Central made 18 of 21 free throws over the last eight minutes after Gate City, struggling offensively, was forced to foul.
Central guard Brook Porter, who led all scorers with 19 points, hit 8 of 9 from the foul line and teammate Olivia Mullins hit 6 of 6. Dee Cvetnich scored 12 points to back Porter, who made three 3-point jumpers.
The 17-point game of Jaden Fullen paced Gate City, which had no other player in double figures.