The Devils’ point total was their biggest of the season.
Junior sharpshooter Bradley “Dead-Eye” Dean had a game-high 43 points and hit eight shots from somewhere in the stands for the Devils. The performance came just five days after Dean hung a 50 piece on Battle in the regular season finale.
Dean must like playing the Trojans, as he averaged 41.3 points against them in three meetings this season.
Gate City notched its 20th win of the season and did so with an emphatic third quarter, scoring 29 points. The Devils went on a 15-8 run out of the locker room and could not miss from anywhere. Jon Compton had 13 points for Gate City and Drew Vermillion was also in double figures, finishing with 10.
“We have an old group of kids and we’re trying to blend a young group of kids with them,” Gate City head coach Scott Vermillion said. “Our old guys are leading our young guys and that’s a sign of a veteran team when you can come out and be solid early. … Our kids played well tonight sharing the basketball and it’s hard to beat a team that shoots it that well.”
The Trojans (14-10) had played GC close in both regular season meetings, losing by 10 in the first meeting in Bristol and 12 last week in Gate City. The Devils had trouble putting away Battle both times late, but that was not the case Wednesday as the Devils started the game on an 8-0 run and never trailed.
Senior Zac Ervin continues to be out healing his surgically repaired knee, but when asked if he would play in any upcoming games, Vermillion said, “Come next week and watch the game.”
Holding Cayden McConley was going to be a big key for the Devils going in as he averaged 26 points in both regular season meetings. Gate City did its job and held him to 16 points, and he only had seven through three quarters. Andrew Samuel was the leading scorer for Battle as he netted 26 points.
Wise Central 61, Union 52
A physical game between the two Wise County rivals was the story in both regular season meetings, but Central took the sweep of the Bears.
The Warriors (15-9) also got out to a quick advantage — up 5-2 at the start — and never trailed. Central also did a good job of controlling the boards all night, mostly limiting Union’s chances to one shot and done.
Central had a balanced attack on offense with Elijah Hayes finishing with 16 points, Tyler Vanover netting 14 and Jordan Bishop kicking in 13.
Freshman guard Andy Jones led the Bears (13-11) with 18 points and Noah Garrison helped out with 12.
The defense in the fourth quarter was the difference for Central, as the Bears had closed what was a 31-17 game in the second quarter down to a 44-39 game at the end of three periods.
“We’ve had a problem of being a little bit greedy on defense all year,” Central head coach Tj McAmis said. “That meaning we want to gamble and try to get the big steal. That gets us out of position continuously. We’re a long and lanky team and we take that away from our defense when that happens. The message near the end of the third quarter was that we had to quit gambling. We had to sit down, force our length and make them shoot over the top. That worked out for us the rest of the game.”
It certainly did as the Bears hit just one 3-pointer in the game and it came in the final quarter when the contest was already decided.
“The effort for our guys the last two games has been top notch,” McAmis said. “If they continue to play like that, we’ve got enough talent to make some waves. I’m really proud of them tonight.
A LOOK AHEAD
The Warriors will look to avenge a regular season sweep by Gate City as both meetings were decided by more than 20 points. The Devils extended their consecutive district games won streak to 61 and have not lost at home in almost four full years.
Central will need to hold Gate City early on as the Devils are averaging nearly 82 points per contest on their home court and allowing below 60.
Dean is averaging 32.6 points at home and has been pouring in a 29.3 average since Ervin was declared out for an extended amount of time.
Gate City will play host to Central on Friday night in the district tourney title game at 7:30 p.m. Battle will meet Union in the consolation game at 6 p.m.