GATE CITY — On Saturday night, Sullivan North’s Chase Arnold collected a school all-time scoring record to go with the all-time rebounding record he established earlier this season.
All other things being equal, he would have preferred to leave Gate City with a win.
“It’s kind of bittersweet, I guess. I thought we played good enough to win it. We just didn’t knock down enough shots at the end,” said Arnold, who scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a 55-44 non-conference loss to the Blue Devils.
Arnold — who also had five steals, went 9-for-10 at the free throw line, blocked two shots and took a charge — eclipsed David Buchanan’s career mark of 1,792 points with his 13th point of the night on a turnaround jump shot with 31.6 seconds remaining in the first half.
Arnold, who now has 1,805 career points, got his buckets while being hounded by Gate City defensive stopper Michael Collier for most of the night.
“Arnold is just hard to stop. He’s tough. He’s slippery. It’s hard to double him. He just slides right through and gets offensive rebounds. He’s hard to guard,” said Blue Devils coach Scott Vermillion, whose team otherwise held down North’s other scorers.
Andy Arnold led the Blue Devils (6-5), scoring 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds
“We knew they were going to come in with a lot of fight because of last time,” said the Gate City big man, who also blocked a shot.
Dylan Jenkins scored 12 points and handed out two assists for the Blue Devils. Nick Bowen scored 10 points and Luke Ervin had nine points and seven rebounds.
“(North) has a good team, they’ve got a lot of good players. But I like the way we played tonight. We beat a good team,” Jenkins said.
The Golden Raiders (10-6) made a much stronger impression at Gate City than they did in their 83-51 loss at home in the first meeting in early December.
“That was probably our best defensive game that we’ve played as a team. Gate City is a really tough team to guard. They run a lot of good stuff on offense. I just thought we did a tremendous job offensively,” said North coach Jay Gregory, whose team led at some point in each of the first three quarters, and didn’t trail by more than two possessions until after the Blue Devils’ 12-2 run to open the fourth quarter.
North showed it is in much better basketball shape than the Raiders were the first time they faced the Blue Devils. The first sign that Gate City’s relentless defensive pressure was having any effect on North’s stamina didn’t occur until the Raiders threw away the ball against the full-court press on their last possession of the first quarter, which ended tied at 11.
The Devils upped the ante and led by six points by 5:10 remaining in the second quarter. But Grayson Ball, Kairi Thompson and Cory Rowe got more involved in the offense after that, allowing the Raiders to lead 24-22 at the half.
First-half minutes off the bench from Gate City’s Caleb Herron, J.R. Barnes, Nick Qualls, Brandon Baskette and Jon Brooks didn’t appear to count for much at intermission. But by the end of the third quarter, it was clear that the Devils had eroded North’s energy as intended.
“I did shorten the bench a little bit because I knew it was going to be a physical game,” Gregory said. “They let them play a little more physical here in Virginia.”