On Tuesday night, visiting Gate City claimed its landmark win of the young season by knocking off Daniel Boone by a convincing 61-50 count in a nonconference matchup of heavies at Bobby Snyder Gym.
“We played well, in spurts,” said veteran Gate City coach Kelly Houseright. “We played hard and we competed, and that’s the big thing.
“We came over here last year and lost by about 60, so to come in here and get a win against this team is much more refreshing. Outside of our conference we won’t see teams any better than Boone.”
The Lady Blue Devils (5-1) broke free of a tight game by outscoring Boone 22-12 in the second quarter and assuming a 34-25 edge at halftime. The Trailblazers could get no closer in the second half.
The multitalented Sarah Thompson, a hard-nosed sophomore guard, scored 17 of her game-high 28 points over the first two periods.
“We’ll go this year as Sarah and Jaden (Fullen) go,” Houseright said. “Both were very good tonight and I’d say this was our most complete performance.
“Sarah’s just a gifted athlete who has great vision out there. When you love basketball and you play a lot of basketball, it shows up on the court.”
Kate Pendleton, another veteran, scored 11 points to support Thompson.
THE FULLEN DIFFERENCE
The Lady Devils, state runners-up in 2012 and 2014 under Houseright, were the recent recipients of a game-changing gift from across the state line in the person of Fullen, a 6-foot-2 power pivot with lots of upside.
A senior transfer from Dobyns-Bennett in October, Fullen scored 13 points and owned the glass on both ends while blocking at least three shots.
“There’s nobody in our conference with her size,” Houseright said. “She can handle it and shoot it, has strong hands. She can do a lot with the ball.
“You know, we’re still getting used to her and her used to us. I imagine as the year goes along and we realize she’s in there, we’ll get it to her more.”
Houseright knows Fullen makes Gate City a different animal.
“Absolutely,” the coach smiled.
CARMICHEL LEADS BOONE
The Lady ’Blazers, who last week saw their 34-game Big 7 Conference winning streak end, couldn’t get on any kind of roll in the second half and never threatened.
Bayleigh Carmichel led Boone (8-4) with 23 points. Jaycie Jenkins added 12.
GC BOYS OVERCOME BOONE
It took a spell, perhaps longer than expected, but the Blue Devils dominated the game’s final 10 minutes of play to put away Boone 56-42.
Zac Ervin led Gate City (3-0) with 29 points, but the senior was not on top of his game. A 6-5 swingman who has games of 45 and 49 points in the bank this season, Ervin connected on 9 of 28 shots from the floor, including a 2 of 11 from 3-point range.
Bradley Dean, a junior, backed Ervin with 12 points, and Jon Compton had 10.
Ervin struggled in the first half, especially from the perimeter against good man-to-man defense by quick-footed Chad Heglar. The Wofford commit moved inside in the second half and turned in a more familiar performance.
Ervin scored nine of his points when Gate City broke free of a 36-36 tie with three minutes left in the third quarter with a 20-6 run to end the game.
“He’s got a lot on his shoulders, but he can handle it,” Gate City veteran coach Scott Vermillion said of Ervin. “He was all right once he got one to go down, but he’s got to be better for us and he will be.
“He and Dean will receive a lot of defensive attention, and we know that.”
Up 29-26 at halftime, Boone (5-6) led 34-28 in the third period before turning ice cold from the perimeter, fading down the stretch.
“The first half we did a good job of penetrating and kicking it back out for a clean look at a 3,” Trailblazers coach Chris Brown said. “In the second half they did a better job getting out on us and we just settled for contested jumpers.”
Heglar and Marshall Golden each scored 12 points to pace Boone.