GATE CITY — Because they hadn’t played in two weeks, one might have expected Lee High’s girls to show up as cold as Tuesday night’s outdoor temperatures.
No such luck for Gate City’s girls.
After taking a quarter to find themselves, the Lady Generals took command and collected a 59-40 Clinch Mountain District victory at Gate City.
In the boys’ nightcap, Gate City’s defensive depth took a critical toll on the Generals as the Blue Devils rolled to a 75-52 win.
The Lee girls were champing at the bit to get back on the court.
“This is our first game in a couple of weeks. We knew we might come out a little sluggish. But we bounced back and the kids were really resilient. We just played hard,” said Lady Generals coach Stephanie Ward.
“I think we’ve got a different mix this year. I think we’ve got a lot of kids that have improved. We’ve got better depth than we’ve had in the past. We’ve got a lot of talent all the way through”
Ward was pleased with the full-court pressure her team applied in the second quarter to assume the upper hand, but thought the halfcourt defense was prone to some lapses.
Makenzie Cluesman scored 20 points to pace the Lady Generals (6-2, 1-0) while Erin Haines fired up 11. Jalan McPherson — the focus of Gate City’s defensive effort — finished with nine points while Morgan Miles added eight.
“Coming in, we knew we really wanted to contain (McPherson). We knew she was a good shooter. And (Haines) stepped up for them,” said Gate City coach Kelly Houseright.
“Defensively, we wanted to take away (McPherson’s) 3-point shot, because once she gets going she can score. But we forgot about the rest of them. We gave them a lot of good looks. And they finished.”
Taylor Evans scored 18 points to lead Gate City (1-8, 0-1) while Rachel Horner added nine points and five rebounds. Taylor Clark collected four boards.
“We played in the first quarter like we’ve needed to be playing all the time. We played together,” Houseright said. “In the second quarter when we weren’t hitting shots, we weren’t getting back in transition and picking up our man, you could kind of see us go our separate ways. That’s really what got us.”
In the nightcap, Lee kept most of the first half to within a possession, but Gate City’s shooters came alive in the third quarter. That — combined with the Blue Devils’ relentless 10-deep pressure package — proved the Generals’ undoing.
“We don’t have big numbers. We can’t run a lot of people,” said Lee coach Gary Collier. “They wore on our guards a little bit and in the third quarter they made a run on us, jumped up a little bit and we couldn’t recover.”
Big trifectas from Gate City’s Jordan Potts and Tyler Bird broke up the Generals’ attempt to slow the Devils with a zone.
Bird hit three treys en route to 15 points for Gate City (3-5, 1-0) while Potts nailed four 3s on his way to 14.
Transfer Paul Arnold — son of former Lynn View star Rodney Arnold — had another big outing, scoring a game-high 25 and leading Gate City on the boards with 10 rebounds.
“The second half we hit a shot or two. That always helps to loosen up that zone,” said Gate City coach Scott Vermillion. “And we ran the floor and got the ball to Paul and he did some good things with it. I think he had three assists out of that thing down low. That’s good stuff.”
Tyler Maggard scored 16 points to lead Lee (4-4, 0-1) while Caleb Bledsoe added 13 points and Matt Blust chipped in 10.