Saturday night’s Region D, Division 2 championship game with Virginia High was his time to hand it to himself.
Jenkins fired up a career-high 35 points and the Blue Devils rolled to an 86-79 win over testy Bearcats, who made Gate City play to the bitter end.
In Saturday’s other boys regional title game, Castlewood coach Doug Campbell collected a long-awaited Region D championship after the Blue Devils beat J.I. Burton 40-28 in their Division 1 matchup.
Both regional champions will face the respective Region C runners-up in next weekend’s VHSL Group A quarterfinals at the Prior Center in Wise. Gate City (23-5) will take on Graham and Castlewood (21-5) will face Northwood.
“It feels good. It feels really good, actually. I can’t tell you how happy I am,” said Jenkins, whose shooting clinic upstaged an otherwise impressive 25-point outburst from Virginia High’s Nick Howard.
Because the Bearcats ended Gate City’s season last year, much was made of the revenge motive. Jenkins, like his teammates, reflected coach Scott Vermillion’s view that winning was less a matter of emotion and more a matter of discipline.
Even so, beating VHS on its home floor sweetened the deal.
“Last year hurt a lot. I think we had that in the back of our minds and that gave us a little extra push at the end,” said Jenkins, who hit five 2s, five 3s and went 10-for-12 from the free throw line.
Luke Ervin hit three 3-pointers en route to 17 points for the Blue Devils. Andy Arnold scored 14, including a crowd-pleasing dunk off a Jenkins assist to cap scoring with 14 seconds left in the game. Michael Collier was a beast on the boards and contributed 12 points.
“(Jenkins) really lit it up tonight. He carried us. He was awesome tonight. You can’t brag on him enough,” said the powerful Ervin, who got after the Bearcats like a Scots-Irish Vin Diesel. “Andy played awesome. He set great screens. Michael set great screens. It was just a good team effort.” Touré Fudge scored 19 points for the Bearcats (14-14), who’ll travel to Salem to face Radford in the quarterfinals. Zach Bossard added 17.
“I thought they shot the ball very well. We had a few defensive breakdowns here and there. But for the most part, the shots they took that went in, there wasn’t any defense for it. They were deep shots and they went in,” said Virginia High coach Wayne Rasnick.
After Saturday’s Division 1 title game, Campbell got a little verklempt as he sat by himself on the bench holding the trophy.
“That regional trophy has eluded me for a lot of years,” said Campbell, who chased it twice as a player at J.I. Burton and again as a coach at Castlewood last season.
The Blue Devils got 10 points apiece from Reid Edmonds and Ben Couch. Leading 37-21 headed into the final stanza, Castlewood successfully stalled the rest of the way to the win.
“(Campbell) said layups only. We were lucky enough to hold the ball for two minutes and a minute and a half at a time,” said Edmonds, who helped confine Burton’s Ervin Beaty to 12 points in the shadow of Beaty’s 37-point explosion against Haysi on Friday.
McKenzie Blair had 10 rebounds for the Raiders (13-14), who committed 22 turnovers.
“Castlewood’s offense made us play defense longer than anyone has all year long. We never got into any kind of rhythm,” said coach Aaron Williams, whose team will travel to Salem to face Covington in the state quarterfinals.