GATE CITY — The names may change but the story’s still the same with the Gate City boys basketball program.

The Blue Devils began a new season under a new boss Friday night, displaying the same grit as usual in a 61-55 nonconference win over visiting Daniel Boone.

John-Reed Barnes, a former star player at Gate City and the successor to uber-successful head man Scottie Vermillion, was understandably emotional after winning his first game as head coach.

A 2016 Gate City graduate, Barnes was an assistant under Vermillion as well as an assistant under girls coach Kelly Houseright the last couple years.

“A lot of emotions right now, obviously, with it being the first one,” said Barnes, one of an astounding 33 players (23 boys, 10 girls) who have scored more than 1,000 points as a Blue Devil roundballer. “I’m proud of those kids, man. I didn’t think we had a great day of practice the last couple days, but I challenged them.

“I said the toughest team wins toughest games ... if you back up, the other guys will know. And we didn’t flinch, we didn’t back up. I’m very proud of my team for their fight and their effort. They played their hind ends off.”

Boone coach Chris Brown, whose club committed 21 turnovers in the face of terrific, man-to-man Gate City defense, could not disagree.

“They were the more physical team,” Brown said. “We’ve got to be stronger with the basketball and tougher.

“We know what we’re going to get when we come over here and I told the guys they were going to get after us. But we didn’t handle it well.”

Gate City trailed 2-0 and 3-2 but otherwise led all evening, although Boone was always just a heartbeat away from playing out in front.

It seemed as though every time the Trailblazers made a charge, someone wearing the home white stepped up and made a big play.

Eli McMurray was the offensive leader for Barnes, making four of Gate City’s eight 3-point bombs and finishing with 19 points.

Chris Woodall contributed 13 points, and four other teammates added five or more points each. It was a total team win if ever there’s been one.

“I thought a strength of our team was the ability to score in different areas,” Barnes said. “And we were without a couple guys tonight that we’ll have back, so it was next man up.

“We can score it and we can share it. These guys are eager and they are hungry and they play for each other.”

The Blue Devils led 14-9 after one quarter, 25-19 at halftime and 38-30 through three periods.

Boone, which was led by the 16 points of Creed Musick and the 15 points of Brayden Blankenship, pulled to within 43-40 with 5:08 to play, but Gate City’s Gunner Garrett produced back-to-back hoops and the Blue Devils regained control at 47-40. The ’Blazers could not get over the hump from there.

The Trailblazers were hampered by the foul problems of floor leader Luke Jenkins, who had to sit much of the second half.


Boone could not prevent a strong Gate City rally, but in the end the Lady Trailblazers headed back home with a tough 45-41 overtime win over their Virginia neighbors.

With a raucous crowd fueling the Lady Blue Devils, Gate City overcame a 34-23 deficit late in the third quarter to eventually force OT, but Boone (5-3) won behind a strong defensive performance.

Gate City (1-1) missed all five of its floor attempts and committed four turnovers in overtime. Boone, meanwhile, received a tough, well-defended layup from Camryn Sarvis with 27 seconds on the clock to gain a 44-40 edge that the Lady Blue Devils could not overcome.

Boone’s 2-2-1 full-court pressure figured heavily into the outcome.

“Man, what an environment,” gushed Boone coach Beau Haldren. “This is why we schedule this game. Gate City on a Friday night is outstanding.

“People don’t understand that we’re really still very young, but these girls grew up so much tonight. I’m so proud of them.”

Kyleigh Bacon scored 17 points to lead Boone. Lillie Walters, who had a key steal and a subsequent transition bucket in the OT, finished with 11.

Gate City was led by the 13-point outing of Lexi Ervin, who hit four 3-pointers, and the 10-point game of volleyball star Makayla Bays.

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