With injured Wofford signee Zac Ervin out for at least the next few weeks, the Blue Devils are relying more on Bradley Dean to carry the weight of scoring. On Friday, however, Union found a way to limit Dean’s success.
But Gate City still battled through to take a 62-56 Mountain 7 District basketball win, one that clinched at least a share of the regular-season championship.
IT’S A TEAM THING
Union went into the game with the plan of double-teaming and trapping Dean, who had unleashed 40 points Tuesday against Wise Central in the Blue Devils’ first game without Ervin, who’s dealing with a knee injury.
The Bears (9-9, 5-3) executed their defensive plan well and limited Dean to 11 points. They didn’t account for other players, like Jon Compton and Drew Vermillion, stepping up big in the scoring category.
“It’s just a great win,” said Gate City coach Scott Vermillion. “I love Union’s kids. They hustle and I love the way we battle.
“I was really proud of our guys and their effort. They were doubling Brad, and Jon Compton, Drew and some other guys stepped up. Andrew Hensley stepped up and hit a big shot. Jon (Sallee) got a couple of layups that were huge. This bunch has played together a long time and we’ll just keep fighting and clawing.
“We’re a wounded duck right now, but we’ll just keep on playing.”
BIG SECOND HALF
Compton finished with 18 points, including 16 in the second half, to lead Gate City’s scorers.
“I was struggling the first half. I only had two points. But I just kept shooting and it started to fall,” he said.
With Ervin out, Compton noted, the roles on the team have changed some.
“This hasn’t been my role on this team until now with Zac out. I’ve just had to step and be a scorer,” Compton said. “We can get Zac back, hopefully, by region. I think we can hold the (Mountain 7) and get Zac back by region. We’ll be ready to go.”
Drew Vermillion contributed 15 points.
ON THE BOARDS
David George pulled down 12 rebounds, several on the offensive end, for the Blue Devils (16-2, 9-0), and Dean finished with nine rebounds.
Union coach Zack Moore said rebounding was a big key.
“I thought the difference in the game was offensive rebounding. We wanted someone other than Dean to take a shot, and they would just seem to scrap and claw for an offensive rebound,” Moore said. “When you give a team second and third opportunities, they’ll score on one of them most of the time.”
Union got 18 points from Noah Garrison, Justin Falin had 15 and Alex Rasnick finished with 12.
GATE CITY GIRLS WIN BIG
Sarah Thompson scored 23 points and Jaden Fullen added 16 in the Lady Blue Devils’ 53-36 win over Union.
After taking a 15-7 first-quarter lead, Gate City (12-6, 5-4) outscored the Lady Bears 17-10 in the second to build a 32-17 advantage. The Lady Devils kept a comfortable double-digit lead throughout the second half.
Emili Brooks led Union (10-6, 2-6) in scoring with 11 points and Jayda Smith had 11 rebounds.
Gate City’s boys travel to the Chattanooga area Saturday for a game at Cleveland.
Union’s girls play at Elizabethton on Saturday.
Both schools’ boys and girls teams are scheduled to be back in action Tuesday with Mountain 7 doubleheaders. Gate City hosts John Battle and Union hits the road to Abingdon.