BRISTOL, Va. — The Gate City boys remain unbeaten in the Clinch Mountain District. Just barely.
Trevor Smith scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Blue Devils took a 54-50 come-from-behind victory at Virginia High Thursday night.
“My team rallied back. We played good defense, we helped each other out, made great passes and shared the ball,” said Smith, who drove the baseline to give Gate City a 52-50 lead with 12.2 seconds remaining in the game.
During the invariable timeout, the Bearcats (7-12, 3-3) drew up a play in hopes of getting Joey Gibson open for a 3-pointer. Gibson’s shot was off, but Virginia High coach Jason Stevens was called for a technical by the officials after the coach vocalized his conviction that Gibson was fouled.
The refs called a technical on Stevens and Jordan Potts sank both free throws with 2.0 seconds on the clock. From there, all it took was a successful inbounds pass to Paul Arnold to seal the deal.
“It was a great experience for our guys. A tight game late in the season is good for them now,” said Blue Devils coach Scott Vermillion, whose squad is slated to face Lebanon at home tonight in another crucial district showdown.
Arnold finished with 15 points for Gate City (10-7, 6-0) while Potts scored nine points.
Joey Gibson and Hunter McCall scored 13 points apiece for the Bearcats (7-12, 3-4) with Levi Anderson chipping in nine.
The Bearcats successfully defended their home turf against the Blue Devils last year.
“And I thought we had them again this year, but they’re a resilient team. We just didn’t finish out,” said Stevens, who gummed up the Blue Devils in the first half with a mix of gimmick defenses.
Virginia High went up a bucket three minutes into the first quarter and built a 14-7 advantage. Vermillion got a technical at the end of the first frame for protesting a no-call in the post.
Tyler Mink sank two free throws to open the second quarter and the Bearcats remained in command, leading 26-16 at the half. The home team stayed in front until Smith’s bucket in the post tied it 41-all with 5:45 remaining in the game.
The eighth-ranked Virginia High girls got ambushed in their last visit to Gate City. For payback, the Lady Blue Devils got bushwacked in Bristol.
Savannah Pippin and Adrianne Evans scored 10 points apiece in a 49-22 Clinch Mountain takedown.
“We switched from man to a zone that shocked (them). We’ re not a zone team,” said Pippin, who had five rebounds and blocked four shots for Virginia High (15-3, 6-1).
Taylor Evans scored nine points to lead the Lady Devils (5-11, 3-3).
“They flattened us, didn’t they?” said Gate City coach Kelly Houseright. “We reverted away from the stuff we’ve been doing to win games. We didn’t protect the ball. We didn’t attack the basket. And we didn’t box out worth a hoot.”