The Blue Devils advanced in the losers’ bracket at the 36th Arby’s Classic with a 71-58 win over Greeneville inside Viking Hall.
Zac Ervin poured in 43 points and snared 11 rebounds for Gate City, giving him a total of 80 points through two games. He is 67 shy of the tournament record for total points, held by Sundiata Gaines (147 in 2003).
“It’s tough and I think the loss last night really hurt our guys. We were in a position to win and we couldn’t pull it out,” Blue Devils coach Scott Vermillion said of his team’s 69-68 defeat. “We have some young kids out there still learning and growing. We’re growing up and we have a tough matchup tomorrow.”
The Blue Devils take on John Dyer’s Sullivan East squad at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The winner plays in the sixth-place game on Monday at 1 p.m.
The Greene Devils hung with Gate City for most of Friday’s game, never trailing by more than 15 points.
A key moment came right after halftime when Gate City’s Jon Compton and Greeneville’s Jaevon Gillespie got tangled up going for a rebound. Both players went down and hobbled off the court, neither putting any pressure on his injured ankle. They didn’t return to the game, affecting both squads.
“The offense still flowed after Jaevon went down,” Greeneville coach Brad Woolsey said. “We got a lot of great offensive looks, but when we shoot almost 70 times and only make 23, we have to make more shots against a good team like they are.”
Reid Satterfield had 14 points and Tyler Marsh 12 to lead Greeneville. The Greene Devils had a huge offensive rebounding edge, 23-12, but had difficulty converting on second-chance points. They also hit just 5 of 30 shots from 3-point range.
The Blue Devils got to the foul line 27 times and knocked down 19 free throws. Bradley Dean exploited his matchup to the fullest, finishing with 21 and 10 rebounds.
Gate City’s game with Sullivan East will pit good friends against one another in the coaching matchup, and the guard play and constant pressure should make for an interesting matchup.
“East is awfully good,” Vermillion said. “Coach Dyer and I are good friends and it’ll be neat to play his team. It’ll be an opportunity to play against a really good team.”