Dean’s beastly shooting performance — 43 points, including 27 in a first half that saw him hit five 3-pointers — led the Blue Devils to an 83-68 win over Sullivan East in an elimination game of the annual basketball tournament.
“He was very hot in that first half. When he gets going like that, he’s deadly from the perimeter,” Gate City coach Scott Vermillion said. “They spent a lot of effort guarding Zac out top and I knew that would open some things up. ... They looked like they were playing some triangle-and-2 at the beginning. The zone did bother us at first, but we made a lot of shots.”
Ervin finished with 25 points.
Dayne Davis had 17 points to lead the Patriots and Dylan Bartley netted 16. Sullivan East hit 8 of 34 shots from 3-point range and forced only eight turnovers.
“(Dean and Ervin) are outstanding,” Patriots coach John Dyer said. “We just couldn’t stay in front of Dean. He played great. We never made them uncomfortable on offense and that was the whole key to the game.”
The Blue Devils shot lights out, going 27-for-50 from the field and 9-for-18 from beyond the arc. They also hit 20 of 24 free throws.
Though the stat sheet might show Gate City’s domination, East hardly trailed by more than 13 points until late in the game.
“We can’t beat the experience of coming to the Arby’s playing three great teams in three days,” Dyer said. “(Vermillion) is a great coach and a great man. He’s the leader of that program and what a great program he has. His program is all class.”
Gate City advanced to face Dobyns-Bennett in the sixth-place game on Monday at 1 p.m. The teams — though separated by a short 11.2 miles — haven’t played a regular-season game since 2012, and the matchup should be a terrific sendoff to 2018 for high school basketball fans.
“The biggest thing about (Dobyns-Bennett) is that they are well coached and they can score in a lot of places,” Vermillion said. “They’re hard to read and they’re hard to get a bead on. That’s the kind of team that’s hard to beat. They aren’t going to give us anything. They’re a good team, bottom line.”