GATE CITY - Grand opening. Grand closing.
Thanks to a hot start from Tihlee Anderson and a torrid finish from Jamie Hackney, Gate City eclipsed interstate foe Sullivan South 66-48 Saturday night.
"Our confidence is really up," said Hackney, who scored 21 points. "We're growing as a team and you can tell."
In what bore a strong resemblance to the two schools' earlier meeting this season - a 46-41 victory for the Blue Devils on Dec. 16 - Hackney and Anderson did plenty of damage.
The difference? The Rebels struggled to inflict some themselves.
Despite a solid start offensively, South (7-13) sputtered over the final three periods - capping the night with just three points in the fourth quarter.
"They stroked us early," Blue Devils coach Scott Vermillion said. "We went to a halfcourt set (in the second half) just to get a read on them and had some success."
Gate City (11-4) had no such trouble on the offensive end, thanks in large part to its go-to tandem.
Anderson opened the game on a tear, finishing the first period with 12 of the Devils' 19 points. The sophomore point guard closed with a game-high 23.
Hackney happily deferred to Anderson in the first half, but gladly carried the offensive load after the break.
The junior forward did it from inside and outside, with an array of tricks that included a lean-in 3-pointer from 25 feet as time expired in the third quarter.
"They helped a little more on him (Anderson) in the second half and that freed me up for some open baskets," said Hackney, whose averaging just a little less than 22 points an outing over his past three games.
Still, it was a strong defensive effort that allowed Gate City to pull away from the Rebels.
After South swingman Aaron Willey opened the game with 10 first-quarter points, the Blue Devils refocused their efforts and were quite successful.
Willey did manage to score 21, but only one other Rebel reached double figures - Henry Ringley with 11.
"We're taking care of the ball, getting better shots and playing solid defense," Vermillion said. "And it's paying off."
Earlier, the Gate City girls reeled off their 11th consecutive victory.
Coincidentally, the Lady Blue Devils (14-2) last loss came to South in late December. Since then, Gate City has dealt the Lady Rebels a pair of defeats - with Saturday night's by far the most convincing.
"We did a good job tonight," Lady Blue Devils coach Hugh Godsey said. "Our kids played hard. It was a good effort."
The Lady Devils, sharp throughout, carried a 28-16 lead into halftime. Then came a decisive third period in which Gate City outscored South 24-8.
Gate City senior Ashton Bishop scored 10 points in the frame after drawing a blank in the opening half.
"We just wanted to tighten up in a few areas," Godsey said. "We also got some good minutes from some kids off the bench. They played with a lot of energy."
Gate City's Odle sisters, Haley and Heather, struck early and often. Haley led all scorers with 17. Heather notched 12.
"Some days you've got it and some days you don't," Haley Odle said. "I shot when I needed to and tried to get everyone involved, too."
Samantha Williams, quiet through two periods Saturday, finished with 16 for the Lady Rebels (10-9), who were without starter Ashley Johnson.
South coach Josh Tate declined to comment afterward.