The scoreboard shows the final score, 47-38 Wise Central, and the Lady Warriors celebrate in this combination photo following Wise's win over Gate City in the VHSL 2A title game Saturday in Richmond, Va. (Michelle Repass photos)
RICHMOND, Va. — With less than five minutes to go in the VHSL 2A girls basketball championship game, Wise Central had the lead, the ball and Logan Reynolds.
That was the winning combination.
Reynolds' slick ball-handling forced Gate City to foul, which proved to be the kiss of death for the Lady Blue Devils. The Lady Warriors made their free throws down the stretch and came away with a stunning 47-38 victory over the Lady Blue Devils on Saturday.
It was the fifth time this season the Mountain District rivals met, with Gate City (25-3) winning the previous four contests. But on this night — in the game that mattered most — Central (24-6) proved to be a worthy champion.
"We talked all week long about believing," said Lady Warriors coach Robin Dotson. "We knew that the team that played the best in this game would win.
"The four losses to Gate City earlier were frustrating, but not devastating," Dotson said. "Gate City is a great team and they deserved those wins, but tonight was our night and we knew that in our hearts."
Employing a new offensive wrinkle to take advantage of Gate City's aggressiveness on defense, the Lady Warriors' Kayla Mulkey and Annie Church scored five quick baskets on backdoor cuts and put their team on top 10-4 after less than four minutes of play.
The Lady Blue Devils responded immediately. With Morgan Gose scoring nine points, Gate City went on a 13-2 run to take a 17-12 advantage heading into the second quarter.
A pair of free throws by Kaely Gose pushed the Lady Blue Devils' lead to eight, 23-15, with 3:26 left in the half.
But from that point, Gate City was outscored 32-15.
Turnovers were the tale of the tape. The Lady Blue Devils had 19 and Central committed only five, just one in the second half.
While the Lady Warriors didn't shoot the ball as well as Gate City, with the turnover advantage, they were able to get off 20 more shots in the game — a crucial stat.
Wise also had 15 offensive boards to just eight for the Lady Blue Devils.
"There's not a lot I can say," said Gate City coach Kelly Houseright, who had the Lady Blue Devils in their second state championship game in three years. "The turnovers were certainly a big factor. Wise's shot selection was a little better than ours and when it got near the end and they were running down the clock we panicked a little and fouled too much.
"Sometimes it's just not meant to be," she added. "We picked a bad night to have a bad game.
"I just told the girls not to let this one game define what a good season they had."
Just as she had done last weekend in the Lady Warriors' win in the state semifinals over previously unbeaten Brunswick, Reynolds was masterful with the ball. She ate up clock and hit her free throws.
The outcome was sweet for Reynolds and her teammates after losing to Floyd County in last year's title game.
"The doubters didn't give us a chance against Brunswick and they didn't believe we could beat Gate City," said Reynolds, a junior who closed with a game-high 20 points. "And now we're state champs."
Jordan Gose led the Lady Blue Devils with 11 points.comments powered by Disqus