The vastly improved Indians raced to an 88-53 victory Tuesday night over Gate City.
For the Tribe, it was a final tuneup before facing perennial state power Science Hill on Friday at Johnson City. For Gate City, it was a test to see what life will be like without one of its mainstays.
“We came out with good focus and intensity,’’ D-B coach Charlie Morgan said. “We’ve got to match Science Hill’s focus and intensity in our next game and this means we’ll have to do things really well.’’
The Blue Devils played without veteran Trevor Smith, who suffered a pulled groin muscle in Monday night’s game at J.J. Kelly. He’ll likely be out of the lineup until January. Another key player, Wes Hughes, faces knee surgery.
D-B, after falling behind 6-2, unleashed a swarming defense to reel off 21 of the next 23 points.
Center Adam Denison, the top holdover from last year’s squad, and guard Darius Davis each scored 17 points for D-B. Derrick Steele got 11 and Tyler Ailshie 10.
The Tribe fired in 55 percent of its field goal attempts, compared to Gate City’s 40 percent. Davis was 8-of-10 on field goal tries.
Paul Arnold, scoring around the basket, led Scotty Vermllion’s Blue Devils with 28 points. The 6-foot-2 junior sank 11 of 17 floor shots. Luke Ervin added 11 points.
“Scotty didn’t have his best player. He’s really Gate City’s go-to guy,’’ Morgan said of Smith. “Scotty’s ballclub is a little bit stronger with that young man in there. Having him would have given them another offensive threat.’’
D-B’s pressure defense set up a streaming fast-break attack.
“Darius really stepped up and provided leadership,’’ Morgan said. “He made some tough buckets and rebounded well.’’
Gate City (1-2) gave up the ball 24 times on turnovers — 13 of these in the opening half while falling behind 45-18.
“We have a goal to force opponent into 15 turnovers,’’ Morgan said. “Any time you force turnovers, it gives you extra shots.’’
Eleven players got in on the scoring act for D-B (5-3). The home team hit at least 21 points in every quarter and made half its 3-point goal attempts.
Vermillion said the wide margin of defeat was a combination of negatives that created a snowball effect.
“We got caught up in the atmosphere and made some poor decisions,” he said. “D-B is very solid defensively. (The Indians) got comfortable and we were back on our heels all night.
“We got impatient and took poor shots in the first half. It’s been a long time since we’ve gone through stretches like that. This was a lesson. We have good kids and they will bounce back.’’