The win secures a season sweep of the Indians and boosted the Blue Devils to 7-4.
“D-B is a very good team and they’re very well coached,” Gate City coach Scott Vermillion said. “To sweep them is huge, but we hit home big shots in crucial moments.”
Although Dean was the star of the show, Eli Starnes also showed up in big way for GC. Starnes netted 14 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and corralled numerous key rebounds in big moments.
“He went way high up to get a couple of boards and came down with them,” Vermillion said. “The shot in the corner might not have been the shot we wanted initially, but it was the shot we wanted when it went in. We let our kids play loose and free and we want them to have the freedom to shoot it. He shot that one to make it.”
A huge bucket by Dean to end the third quarter made the lead 43-36.
The Indians wanted to make any other player besides Dean beat them, and Gate City’s role players stepped up. David George stepped out and hit a pair of key 3-pointers in the second and third quarters. Jon Sallee converted a couple of huge layups on the fast break toward the end of the game.
Gate City pushed its lead out to as many as nine, but the Indians didn’t go away. But after they pulled to within four, the Tribe missed a couple of golden opportunities to pull closer inside the last three minutes.
Abiah Releford led the Indians with 12 points. Malachi Hale had 11 and freshman Brady Stump 10.
One of the key factors in the outcome was that Releford was limited to only two points in the second half, both on made free throws.
Defensive changes by Gate City slowed him down.
“I feel pretty good about what this game did for us,” Indians coach Chris Poore said,” coming into this environment with the energy in the gym and the physical play that they provide. We played aggressive and we attacked a lot. We’ve got to take that next step and be able to finish those plays, though.”
THOMPSON TOES THE LINE
Sarah Thompson went 5-for-6 from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the Lady Blue Devils’ 43-39 win in the physical matchup.
“It was great for us to come out and get this win after last night,” said Gate City coach Kelly Houseright, whose team fell to Ridgeview on Friday. “Last night we didn’t play as a unit and we need to be more consistent. Tonight we came out with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. Our effort was great.
On their last three possessions, the Lady Indians went inside to Jabrea Johnson and she made two of the shots. The one the Tribe really needed didn’t go down, however, and Macey Mullins grabbed the rebound for the Lady Devils.
Thompson finished with a game-high 14 points and Mullins added 13.
“Macey has been huge for us all year, but she played really big for us tonight,” Houseright said. “She’s getting better and she’s young. She’s a pure basketball player and we expect her to do some good things for us.”
Johnson was the top scorer for the Lady Indians with 10 points.