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Gate City rolls into Mountain 7 championship game

Kevin Mays • Feb 15, 2018 at 11:15 PM

GATE CITY — Thursday’s Mountain 7 District boys basketball tournament semifinal game between Gate City and Abingdon was a close contest for about two minutes. 

After that, the game belonged to Gate City. 

The Blue Devils broke an early-game 7-7 tie in the first quarter by outscoring Abingdon 18-2 over the final six minutes of the opening period to build a 25-9 advantage by the end of the quarter. From that point, Gate City, which has not lost on its home court this season, dominated the contest, taking a 96-44 victory. 

With the win, Gate City (22-1) advances to Saturday’s Mountain 7 championship game against Wise Central at Gate City Middle School. Abingdon (9-14) will face Union in the consolation game. The action is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. 

ROLLING ALONG

Gate City’s high-flying, high-scoring trio of Mac McClung, Bradley Dean and Zac Ervin dominated the scoring column. McClung finished with 37 points, while Dean finished with 19 — including 12 from 3-point shots — and Ervin added 17.

Blue Devils coach Scotty Vermillion was happy to see his team hit its stride early in the game.

“Our first quarters have been kind of lethargic lately,” said Vermillion. “We were consistent tonight.”

Vermillion was also happy with his team’s consistent play after a long layoff from being on the court. Thursday’s game was the first one in eight days for the Blue Devils.

PHYSICAL PLAY

Despite the lopsided score, Abingdon managed to be physical with the Blue Devils throughout the contest. The tough play and aggressive attitude of the Falcons led to Abingdon head coach Casey Johnson receiving a technical foul and an Abingdon player being ejected. 

Vermillion said such aggressive play is actually a plus for his team as it heads further into the postseason. 

“When you travel and play on the road against tough teams in the postseason, it’s a war,” he said. “Actually, that physical play is good for us and will help us down the road.”

Ean Bassham led Abingdon’s scorers with 12 points.  

WISE CENTRAL 42, UNION 32

In Thursday’s other semifinal game, Wise Central (17-7) pulled away from county rival Union (15-9) late to take a win.

Both teams struggled on offense, but Warriors coach T.J. McAmis said that can be expected sometimes against a rival.

“It was kind of an ugly game as far as execution, but that can happen. I just told our guys that we were going to have to play tough defense and we did toward the end there,” said McAmis.

Central led 29-24 after three quarters before outscoring the Bears 13-8 in the final period to take the win.

Dalton Mullins led Central in scoring with 13 points, while Union’s Justin Falin had 14. 

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