COEBURN - During the Lonesome Pine District's regular season, a lot of people would have been willing to bet the farm on the Gate City girls.
In Friday night's LPD tournament championship game, that wager would have proven "un-Wise."
J.J. Kelly led from the second quarter onward and held off a late Lady Blue Devil comeback bid to prevail 46-49.
"It feels so good to win. This is my third year here and we've only had one championship game since I was a freshman," said Lady Indians post Kalen Collins, who credited her tournament MVP trophy to her teammates.
In the boys' title game Cody Salyer scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as Gate City finally shook off persistent J.I. Burton 66-53.
If the Gate City girls had to stumble, their timing was fortunate.
Kelly's upset of the defending state champions won't affect next week's Region D tournament pairings. The Lady Blue Devils still advanced as the LPD's No. 1 seed.
That didn't make Gate City (22-3) or its coach any happier about the outcome.
"You never really want to lose," said Hugh Godsey. "They've beaten us enough in the past, we love to beat them every chance we get."
The win marked J.J. Kelly's eighth LPD tournament title since 1991. The Lady Indians were beaten thrice by Gate City this season.
"I was very proud of my girls. We weathered every storm they threw at us," said Kelly coach Robin Dotson.
Lauren Mullins led the Lady Indians (19-6) with 11 points while Jaydee Brewer added 10 prior to coming out of the game due to a knee injury with 3:07 left to play. Sarah Saunders scored eight points while Samantha Brummette added seven.
"Kalen and Lauren are our best scorers. But if you ignore the other people, they can make you pay," Dotson said.
Kelly took the lead for good on Brummette's 3-pointer with 5:55 left in the first half. Brewer scored six that period and the Lady Indians led 23-18 at the half.
Saunders added six points and an assist during the third, with Kelly leading 36-29 headed into the final quarter.
Gate City whittled the lead down to a bucket by 4:23 remaining on a three-point play and follow-up bucket in the paint from Haley Odle. A couple of Mullins free throws and a stickback from Collins staved off that charge.
Tuesdee Woods' trifecta with 1:37 cut it to 42-39. In the final minute, Kelly went 4-for-8 at the free throw line to help neutralize Heather Odle's lane driver and another three-point play from Haley.
Gate City got off three errant shot attempts on its final possession, which ended at the buzzer with both teams scrapping over a loose ball.
"We've been flirting with it for a long time and we finally got what we deserved tonight," said Godsey, whose squad entered the postseason with a No. 2 ranking in The Associated Press Group A poll.
"We lost our poise too many times. We didn't execute offensively and stood around. But give Kelly all the credit. At times, they looked like they wanted it worse than we did."
Haley Odle paced Gate City with 14 points while Woods put up 12.
J.I. Burton (15-10) hung around for three quarters in the boys' championship game. But Gate City (19-5) finally brought the horserace under control.
"Norton's one team you don't want to run with for four quarters. They're usually going to make the better decision," said Gate City coach Scotty Vermillion, whose team clinched its fourth consecutive LPD tournament title.
"We let them get out and run a little bit on us in the first half and that was not good for us. We wanted to control the tempo. In the second half, we did so."
The Raiders took to the floor without starting post Ethan Stewart, who sat out the game with the flu. Things didn't finally start to unravel for them until starting guard Jay Coleman took a seat with his fifth foul with 2:15 left in the third period.
Jaycob Coleman paced Norton with 22 points. Pat Begley added 12 while Jacob Caudill contributed 10.
Jamie Hackney fired up 20 points for the Blue Devils. Tihlee Anderson, who was named the tournament MVP, finished with 19.
"It must have been tough to pick an MVP tonight," Vermillion said. "We have a lot of kids who do the intangibles."