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Blue Devils unseat two-time defending state champs

By JOHNNY WILSON, Sports Correspondent • Mar 3, 2018 at 2:08 AM

RADFORD — On a cold and windy March evening, the Gate City boys did the improbable Friday and blew Radford out of its home away from home.

The Blue Devils (26-2) played the perfect basketball game, claiming a 67-48 win over the previously unbeaten Bobcats in VHSL Class 2 quarterfinal play at the Dedmon Center on the campus of Radford University.

The Gate City victory broke a 37-game winning streak by the two-time defending state champions and lifted the Blue Devils into the Class 2 semifinals.

“They (the Bobcats) had a big crowd and they probably wanted to put on a show, but all we wanted to do was win,’’ Gate City senior Mac McClung said. “I’m so proud of everybody on this team.

“I helped carry us here, but tonight everybody carried me and we got this win.’’

Although Radford always seemed ready to explode offensively, it never happened. The Bobcats (27-1) shot 32 percent (18-for-56) from the floor in the face of terrific man-to-man defense by Gate City.

Gate City never trailed, getting two quick, unexpected 3-point jumpers from Jon Compton to race out to a 13-5 lead midway through the first quarter.

It was a sign of things to come.


McClung led the Devils with 24 points and steady Zac Ervin contributed 22, but it was the efforts of Gate City’s role players that subdued Radford.

Compton finished with those six points and played outstanding defense all night on Radford junior sensation Quinton Morton-Robertson, who scored 25 points but missed 15 of 25 shots.

Fellow sophomore John Sallee added seven points and was huge inside all game.

Bradley Dean, another sophomore, scored six points and held sharp-shooting freshman Cam Cormany to a 2-of-9 night from the floor.

“What can you say about John Sallee and the game he played?’’ gushed veteran Gate City coach Scott Vermillion. “And Jon Compton and Bradley Dean defensively?

“I give credit to the kids. We had to be well rounded tonight because Radford was going to try to take away Mac and Zac.’’


Radford did make two pushes, but on each occasion Gate City responded.

Down 29-20 at intermission, Radford rallied to get within 29-27 with 5:35 left in the third quarter. At that point McClung scored off a reverse layup, Sallee and senior Andrew Sharpe both stuck back missed shots, Ervin scored in transition — and suddenly the Gate City lead was 41-30 after three periods.

After the Bobcats scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter, Dean hit a 3-pointer, McClung dealt in the lane for two hoops and Ervin sneaked out for a snowbird layup. And the Devils were back up 51-38 with just over four minutes to play.

Gate City wrapped it up at the foul line, where it hit 15 of 21 attempts to Radford’s 4-of-5 night.

“This is the greatest win I’ve ever had,’’ Vermillion said. “I am so proud of these kids and what they were able to accomplish out there against a great team and a great program.’’

The Devils will play the winner of Saturday’s Graham-Martinsville game in the state semifinals.

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