Lebanon upsets Gate City to end Blue Devils' year

Pat Kenney • Feb 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM

GATE CITY — For the past two seasons Gate City has had Lebanon’s number on the basketball court.

On Wednesday in the Region D, Division 2 boys quarterfinals — in the Devils Den — the Pioneers had a reversal of fortune.

Cody Compton and Nick Bush combined for 38 points as No. 7 seed Lebanon stunned second-seeded Gate City 64-49.

With the victory, the Pioneers (19-5) advance to Friday’s semifinals where they will host Virginia High (18-7) at 7 p.m.

“We were determined not to let this be our last game,’’ said Compton who had 21 points to lead Lebanon. “We knew what to expect down here and came in with a lot of confidence.’’

Gate City (17-8) used a 10-0 run midway through the first quarter to take a 14-6 lead. Ahead 16-10 to start the second quarter, the Devils’ Jordan Potts drilled a 3-pointer to give GC a nine-point edge.

Lebanon answered with an 8-0 run of their own, and trailed by just five points, 25-20, at the half.

“I thought we played well in the first half, but missed enough free throws that we could have been tied,’’ said Pioneers’ head coach Thad Lambert.

Lebanon opened the second half with a vengeance. Three straight baskets gave them a 26-25 lead.

Tihlee Anderson’s two free throws with 6:03 left in the period put Gate City back on top, but the Pioneers found themselves ahead 32-30 after a pair of treys from Compton who finished with 12 points in the quarter.

Over the last five minutes of the third quarter, Lebanon outscored the Devils 16-5 and took a 45-35 lead into the final eight minutes of play.

“In the third quarter, Lebanon attacked the basket and got what they wanted,’’ said Gate City head coach Scott Vermillion. “They are a little more athletic in spots than we are and they attacked us in those weak areas.’’

Lebanon’s lead grew to 14 points with 4:44 left in the contest. The Blue Devils, determined to mount a miracle comeback, filled the passing lanes and overplayed everywhere.

Lebanon, recognizing the situation, moved the ball with finesse, continually finding open players who scored easy baskets. Bush himself had four layups in the final minutes.

“We lost twice to them this year by a few points,’’ said Bush, who finished with 17 points. “Tonight we were more prepared. We were the ones who turned up the intensity.’’

Lebanon’s 15-point victory could have been even greater. The stat sheet showed them hitting just 8 of 23 free throws in the contest.

“Free throw shooting has been a problem for us all year,’’ said Lambert. “We lost to Gate City by four in our last game and missed double-digit free throws.

“But I felt like when we got the big lead we were able to control things on both ends of the floor. Tonight our kids showed a lot of poise out there and I thought that was the difference.’’

Andrew Jessee added 10 points and Jerome Cobb 12 rebounds and two blocked shots for Lebanon. With Cobb in foul trouble most of the second half, freshman Justin Brown came off the bench and grabbed five boards and scored four points.

Anderson led the way for the Blue Devils, scoring a game-high 25 points. Josh Johnson finished with 11.

The Blue Devils, a program accustomed to deep runs in postseason, will be home early this year.

“Tonight, Lebanon just out executed us,’’ said Vermillion.

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