Kingsport Times-News: Lady Blue Devils ground Lady Falcons in M7 play
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Lady Blue Devils ground Lady Falcons in M7 play

By JOHNNY WILSON, Sports Correspondent • Feb 2, 2019 at 2:18 AM

GATE CITY — While Abingdon fights it out with Wise Central and Ridgeview for Mountain 7 District girls basketball supremacy, Gate City hopes flying below the radar is good strategy as the regular season rolls towards its end.

It could be very unwise to sleep on the Lady Blue Devils, 76-68 winners over the Lady Falcons on Friday night.

“I hope people do,” veteran Gate City coach Kelly Houseright said with a grin. “We want to be playing our best ball right about now and hopefully we’re on the right track.

“We’ve been talking a lot about being consistent and this was the third straight game we’ve had the kind of consistency that we need to compete in this league. Being consistent is a must to survive in this conference.”

THOMPSON STARS

Sarah Thompson pushed the Lady Devils (13-6, 6-4) to victory, scoring 10 first-quarter points to leave the Lady Falcons (15-5, 9-2) trailing for keeps at 18-10 after one period.

“We’ll go as Sarah goes,” Houseright said. “Tonight was probably her best all-around game of the season.”

With Gate City leading 34-30 at halftime, Thompson really poured it on in the second half, scoring 20 of her team-high 32 points to keep her team in control. But the 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, who assisted on numerous hoops while also coming up with several steals, deflected the credit to her teammates.

“When we went to their place we didn’t play our best (in a convincing Abingdon win), so tonight we wanted to prove that we could bounce back,” said Thompson, who was supported by Jaden Fullen’s 15-point outing and Kate Pendleton’s dozen points.

“My teammates were setting good screens tonight and really spacing the floor well to open up some driving lanes, so I’ve got to give them a lot of credit.”

Thompson hit three of Gate City’s eight 3-point jumpers and 11 of 17 free throws. Pendleton made two 3-pointers.

CARTER SHINES IN LOSS

Junior guard Peyton Carter, who hit six 3s on the night, turned in a fabulous 42-point outing in defeat, 25 of which came after intermission.

Emily Breeding added 12 points for Abingdon, which started the evening tied atop the district loss column with Wise Central and a game up on Ridgeview.

GATE CITY BOYS WIN AGAIN

With 34-points-per-game scorer Zac Ervin still rehabbing an injured knee and Gate City looking for Bradley Dean some offensive support, every available candidate stepped up in an 81-58 league rout of Abingdon.

The Blue Devils (17-3, 10-0) have already wrapped up the league’s regular- season boys championship and earned a top Region D seed in the process. Now the goal is to find the talented Dean, who has had a pair of 40-point games this season, some help offensively, like was the case against the Falcons.

While Dean led all scorers with 26 points, all 11 of his teammates scored and impressed their coach.

“We’ve been fortunate the last three or four years to have at least two high-level players on the floor,” said Blue Devils coach Scott Vermillion. “Right now we’ve got Brad, who is high level, but when you look at it it’s lots easier to find a defense that works against one than it is two, much less three, like last year.

“With one you’ve got to run your offense, and others have to shoot and score or you’re in trouble. It’s not going to be any one person; it’s going to be share by committee. We’ve got a bunch of these guys who can and want to step up, so this is an exciting time for our basketball team.”

Drew Vermillion, a senior perimeter player, finished with 10 points to back Dean’s effort. Jon Compton and David George each added nine.

Compton made three of Gate City’s eight 3-point jumpers, and Dean and Vermillion had two apiece.

Even Matthew Gose had his moment in this one, coming off the bench to bank in a 30-footer at the third-quarter buzzer. So did backup D-Andre Mack, who threw down a fourth-quarter dunk in transition.

Jake Thacker and Zairn Belcher each scored 10 points to lead Abingdon (9-12, 4-7), which hit 10 3-pointers. Kirk Nairn, Trent Cox and Chris Hungate had nine points apiece.

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