Over the past few years, Gate City and Virginia High have developed a healthy rivalry on the hardwood and the two always give the fans their money’s worth.
The Bearcats ended Gate City’s season last year in the postseason. However, the Blue Devils earned a little redemption with an 86-79 victory over Virginia High in the Region D Division 2 title game Saturday night on the Cats’ home court.
“Redemption is always nice,” said Blue Devil head coach Scottie Vermillion. “We feel pretty good right now but we are going to have to get up in the morning and get back to work.”
Both teams shot the ball well but Gate City came out of the gates on fire from beyond the arc to build an early lead in the first. Luke Ervin nailed three trifectas in the first, while Nick Bowen and Dylan Jenkins each hit one from downtown to help the Devils build a 25-13 lead after one.
“I thought Gate City shot the ball very well,” said Bearcat head coach Wayne Rasnick. “We had a few defensive breakdowns, but for the most part, they shots they took went in. There wasn’t any defense for it – they were deep shots that just went in.”
Jenkins began to carry the Blue Devils in the second quarter and hit a couple of 3-pointers late in the half to help Gate City to a 44-29 lead. But the Bearcats clawed their way back into the game with an 8-0 run over the final 1:30 of the first half to make it a 44-37 Blue Devil lead.
Virginia High came out of the locker room with the momentum and continued to put pressure on the Devils with a few long-range shots. The Bearcats cut the lead to four but Jenkins hit another 3-pointer to make it a 61-54 Blue Devil lead with 1:02 remaining in the third.
“I knew they (Virginia High) were going to score some points and we just had to keep scoring. Virginia High is a good team,” added Vermillion.
Heading into the final frame, Gate City held a 63-56 lead but Virginia High cut the lead to four once again halfway through the fourth.
The Blue Devils maintained their lead by hitting their free throws down the stretch. But the highlight of the night came with 14 seconds remaining in the game when Jenkins lofted an assist to Andy Arnold, who dunked the ball with authority to bring the Big Blue fans to their feet.
Jenkins had a career night for the Blue Devils with 35 points, including five 3-pointers and a 10-for-12 performance from the charity stripe.
“If you play a three-on-three pickup game on the playground, you want to pick Dylan. And he played like he would on the playground tonight. He shot the ball well tonight. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him shoot the ball like that,” said Vermillion.
Ervin finished with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Arnold and Michael Collier scored 14 and 12 points respectively.
With the victory, Gate City moves on to face Region C runner-up Graham on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
In other action last week, the Blue Devils rolled over Union in the semifinals at Castlewood on Friday night. Gate City topped the Bears with a 67-44 victory to earn the right to face Virginia High for the title.
The Blue Devils and the Bears battled back-and-forth for most of the first half but Gate City went into the locker room with a six-point lead.
After intermission, the Devils took control of the contest and went on a 15-6 run to take the wind out of the sails for Union.
Ervin paced the Blue Devils with 23 points during the victory.
Gate City also routed the Lee High Generals during the tournament with a 79-47 in the quarterfinals at Gate City Middle School.
The Blue Devils started off slow and fell behind early but led 13-10 after one. In the second quarter, Gate City went on a 22-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Jenkins led the Blue Devils with 19 points, while Arnold added 14. Ervin finished with 10 points and Cody Mays added nine points off the bench.