The unbeaten Radford Bobcats, winners of 67 of their last 68 games, turned the tables on Gate City this year, taking a 79-65 win over the Blue Devils in the VHSL Class 2 boys basketball semifinals Tuesday night at Pulaski County High School.
A year ago, it was Gate City beating Radford 67-48 on the way to a state title, but this time the Bobcats came out on top.
Radford (29-0) plays East Rockingham for the title on Saturday on the campus of VCU in Richmond.
View the photo gallery from the game
“I thought we got beat by a great team,’’ 16-year Gate City coach Scott Vermillion said. “It wasn’t like we laid an egg out there.
“(Radford coach Rick Cormany), his record speaks for itself. When we got them last year (in the state semis), it planted a seed for them, just like the year before when R.E. Lee beat us (in the state quarters) and that planted a seed for us.”
BOBCATS OVERCOME ERVIN
Gate City senior Zac Ervin nearly carried the Blue Devils (25-4) back to Richmond, but in the end Radford just had too many bullets.
Ultra-quick guard Quentin Morton-Robertson, a 5-foot-7 Radford University signee, produced 42 points for the Bobcats, including a 19-of-20 effort at the foul line and five 3-point jumpers, and that was enough to outduel Ervin.
Ervin, a 6-5 senior Wofford signee who finished his career among the top-10 VHSL scorers of all time with over 2,350 points, turned in 35 on this night, including 20 in the third period when he hit six 3-pointers.
“Gracious, Wofford is getting one heck of a player in Ervin,” Cormany allowed. “Thankfully, I think he finally, finally got a little tired down the stretch.”
Ervin’s third-quarter onslaught wiped out a 36-30 Radford halftime lead and gave the Blue Devils at 50-47 edge late in the period, but Morten-Robertson and Cam Cormany both nailed 3s to push the Bobcats back out front 54-50 with eight minutes to play.
Cormany finished with 14 points, hitting three 3s, and Radford methodically gained total command with just under three minutes left to play.
“Right when we got that lead, Q came right back down and hit a 3 and tied it back up,” Vermillion said. “We lost (Cam) Cormany a couple times and he made us pay with a couple of 3-point shots.
“It was two great teams with great players making great plays. They made a few more than we did this year and they deserved this win. In the fourth quarter, we just couldn’t manufacture the offense we needed to keep pace.”
Bradley Dean backed Ervin with 19 points, hitting 10 in the first period.
JONES A FACTOR
Radford outfought Gate City on the glass in the first half and stayed close early before turning to Miles Jones to gain its 36-30 halftime lead.
A 6-6 pivot who will play college ball at Radford for his father, Jones was more than Gate City could handle in the low post, and he finished the first half with 11 of his 13 points.
“He had to be big for us,” said Coach Cormany, who has won five state championships at Radford. “When we lost last year, Gate City just beat us to death on the glass, and it wasn’t even close.
“Tonight I was really proud of my guys and their effort on the glass.”
HEADS HELD HIGH
Vermillion said the Blue Devils gave it their best shot.
“These seniors, heck, over 100 wins and four state tournaments and three Final Fours,” he said. “They have a lot to be proud of, as do I.”