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Hard to handle: Gate City boys, girls rough up Pound

January 26th, 2007 11:54 pm by BILL LANE



GATE CITY - There are eight schools in the Lonesome Pine District, but it's becoming apparent that Gate City's Blue Devils - boys and girls - are in a league of their own.


The Gate City boys (13-4, 11-0) rolled over Pound 81-38 Friday night after the Lady Blue Devils won handily 69-30.


Unless the LPD tournament requires a matchup, this was perhaps the last time the two schools will ever meet. Gate City is leaving to compete in the new Clinch Mountain District next season.


If they do meet again, it would be involuntarily - at least on Pound's part.


"I'm not playing them anymore,'' Wildcats coach Jack Hamilton said. "This is it.''


Scott Vermillion's Blue Devils turned the Wildcats every way but loose after falling behind early 12-8.


Gate City's quick-as-a-wink guard, Tihlee Anderson, came within one number of having a triple-double - 12 points, 11 assists and nine steals. He scored six times on drives and breakaways.


Taking just 12 shots, Jamie Hackney led the Blue Devils' scoring parade with 19 points.


Cody Salyer, who scored 12 points, successfully launched three of Gate City's seven 3-point goals. Tyler Parks and Hackney each sank two.


Despite his team's field-goal percentage of 48, Vermillion didn't think any particular individual was that hot-handed.


"We don't burn the nets up,'' he said. "We try to eat on people defensively. We stayed energetic tonight.''


Gate City did just that. After taking control of the game early in the second quarter, its defense was smothering. Parks and Nick Collette as split-duty defenders held Pound's Dustin Fleming, usually a 20-point scorer, to only four.


The 3-point attack enabled Gate City to stretch its lead.


"That 3-pointer is a nail in the coffin,'' Vermillion said. "When you hit a couple of those, it's over.''


Josh Johnson, a 6-foot-8 center, was impressive off the bench for the Devils. He had a slam dunk with 3:02 left to play and hit a back-door reverse layup with 1:29 to go.


Gate City's 6-6 Matthew Bays created havoc underneath the rims even though his team got outrebounded.


"We didn't rebound well, allowing too many seconds shots, and we didn't execute our offense,'' Vermillion said. "In spots, everybody played well but we've got a long way to go to put a total game together.''


Eleven Devils had a hand in the scoring.


"They just wear you down,'' Hamilton said. "They get you in a game you're uncomfortable with. They send (players) at you in waves. They take a small lead and make a big one out of it in a hurry. They're a tough bunch - strong and athletic. We were forced into a lot of turnovers.''


Haley Odle wasn't the preliminary game's top scorer for the Lady Devils, but she drew the most attention after sinking an 8-foot jumper.


Odle scored her 1,000th career point with 4:53 remaining in the third quarter. The game was halted, a large banner was rolled out to celebrate the occasion, and coaches presented her the game ball.


"I knew a couple of weeks ago I was within reach of it,'' she said. "Nobody told me anything tonight. I didn't have a clue what was going on when they stopped the game.''


A transfer, she has played two years at Gate City. The points she scored while at Coeburn counted toward the total. Odle needed 11 to get the milestone.


She becomes the seventh player in Big Blue girls basketball history to hit 1,000. The others were Tammy Mullins (1984), Lisa Carter (1987), Kathy Wininger (1989), Heather Smith (1992), Lindsay Carter (1994) and Lindsey Musick (2005).


Gate City (16-2, 10-0) hit a sizzling 59 percent from the arc, making 10 treys. Heather Odle - Haley's twin sister - and Samantha Horner each hit four.


"Pound was packing a zone in tight,'' Gate City coach Hugh Godsey said. "We have several girls who can shoot 3-pointers and they won't hesitate to do it. But I hope we don't get dependent on that every night.


"I'm pleased with the win. This moves us closer our first goal - a district title.''


Heather Odle and Horner each scored 14.


"Gate City is very physical, moves the ball around and its girls play well together,'' Pound coach Randy Shortt said. "They're one step above everybody else in our district.''


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