GATE CITY — Luke Ervin hardly noticed when he scored his 1,000th career point at Gate City on Friday night.
He was too preoccupied with wanting to collect his 1,001st.
Getting T’d up when scoring a thousand is just one more item to go in the scrapbook for Ervin, who scored 22 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 49-46 Clinch Mountain District win over visiting Virginia High.
Ervin was convinced he got fouled on the bucket that put Gate City up 39-33 with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter. He indicated so and got a technical foul to go with the game ball.
“I guess I just got caught up in the moment,” confessed Ervin, who had only five points at intermission.
There were a lot of moments for a lot of folks to get caught up in. Excitement started building in the packed gymnasium during the girls’ game, which the Lady Blue Devils won 48-44.
When the boys tipped off, the crowd was primed.
“This would be the high school basketball game I’d want to have seen tonight. Just two good ballclubs hammering away at each other,” said Bearcats boys coach Wayne Rasnick.
Virginia High lost the lead for good midway through the first half but got within a possession for the final stretch thanks to Nick Howard’s 3-pointer on a called play with two minutes remaining in the game.
But for the two Gate City baskets that preceded it, Howard’s trifecta might’ve turned the tables. The Blue Devils made it 47-43 on an Andy Arnold bucket. Moments later in transition, guard Dylan Jenkins took a step back as if readying to set up an offense and threaded the ball to Ervin, who rewarded Jenkins with a loudly approved assist.
“I thought at the end we were able to get to the rim in transition a couple times. That little pass (Jenkins) made to Luke was a big bucket. We’ve been turning some of those over, but he found a great one in there,” said Gate City coach Scott Vermillion.
Arnold scored 10 points while grabbing 11 rebounds for the Blue Devils (8-5, 2-0).
“I love playing Virginia High. They really bring out our competitive side,” said Arnold, who also blocked a shot.
The most celebrated blocked shot of the night, however, went to Devils guard Caleb Herron. His successful come-from-behind rejection of a Virginia High transition layup brought the crowd to its feet.
Herron scored four points and got credit for only three outright steals. But he got five or six deflections that either forced a turnover or broke up a transition scoring opportunity.
Herron’s primary defensive assignment was Zach Bossard, who scored 16 points to pace the Bearcats (6-7, 1-1). Howard finished with 13 for Virginia High.
In the girls’ game, a pair of high-pressure free throws by Rachel Kilgore with 7.3 seconds remaining put Gate City’s lead beyond the reach of another Teonna Austin three-point play.
The scrappy Lady Blue Devils guard — who might top out at 5-foot-3 — was one of Gate City’s leading rebounders with five on the night.
“We were just fortunate to get some stops on defense and come down and make our free throws. Especially in the last few minutes,” said Gate City coach Kelly Houseright.
Jordan Gose scored 15 points to lead the Lady Devils (6-8, 2-0), also grabbing six boards. Sister Morgan Gose had 12 points.
Austin scored 13 points to lead the Lady Bearcats (7-6, 1-1), also grabbing five rebounds. Breanna Duff had 10 points and six boards. Chelsea Butler grabbed five rebounds.
“I’m pleased. They’re the state runners-up. We’re not. We competed to the end. That’s all I want,” said Virginia High coach Mike Goforth.