GATE CITY — In a highly anticipated battle between two of the top girls basketball programs in Southwest Virginia, Wise Central zoned in and Gate City zoned out.
The Lady Warriors jumped into an active 2-3 zone in the first half, and it worked wonders against a less-than-sharp Gate City squad. The Lady Blue Devils committed 27 turnovers, shot 26 percent from the floor and fell 61-34 at home in a non-district contest on Friday night.
Central, meanwhile, got many high-percentage shots in transition following Gate City turnovers. The Lady Warriors shot a sizzling 56 percent to remain undefeated on the season.
“We’ve got some athletes, and they anticipate very well,” Central coach Robin Dotson said. “Even when we’re in a zone, we cause people some problems — sliding to the ball, getting in the passing lanes. I thought tonight our defense was super in the second half.”
Central (13-0) led 30-20 at the break before really clamping down on the Lady Blue Devils. The Lady Warriors started the second half on a 14-2 run and eventually outscored Gate City 31-14 over the final two quarters.
An expected story line heading into the game was the matchup between Central’s dynamic duo of Hayley Wyrick and Logan Reynolds against Gate City’s twin tandem of Morgan and Jordan Gose.
That competition was decided early.
Wyrick and Reynolds feasted on transition baskets while the Goses struggled to find open looks against Central’s defense. As it turned out, Wyrick and Reynolds ended up outscoring Gate City’s entire team 46-34.
Wyrick finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds, and Reynolds added 18 points. Jordan Gose led Gate City with 13 points and Morgan Gose added 10.
But the scoring was secondary in the mind of Dotson, who said he’ll remember the game as the best defensive effort of Wyrick’s career thus far. Senior Laura Gipe, who had eight points and six rebounds, said the defense-first mentality is becoming a hallmark of Central’s program.
“That’s what we’ve been focusing on,” Gipe said. “We know we’re going to face a lot of good offensive teams, and this is one of them.
“We went into the game knowing that we’d have to play 110 percent on defense, and I think that’s what we did out there.”
As for Gate City, an early 10-2 run by Central that put the Lady Warriors ahead 10-6 midway through the first quarter seemed to unnerve the Lady Blue Devils.
Gate City coach Kelly Houseright said her players continued to play hard, but she was troubled that her team wasn’t able to find a way to play a more organized, intelligent brand of basketball for the final 3½ quarters.
“We just folded our tents — really after the first quarter — when things started going bad,” Houseright said. “That’s really not like us, but when things started going bad, we just went our own separate ways.”
In the boys’ game, Gate City led by double digits most of the way and cruised to a 76-55 win.
Luke Ervin drilled seven 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 30 points for the Blue Devils, who finally pushed their advantage out to 20 in the fourth quarter. Andy Arnold added 12 points and Dylan Jenkins had 18.
Jimmy Williams led Central with 19 points. Caleb Mills added 16.
The Blue Devils are back in action tonight at home against Sullivan North.