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Ervin, Blue Devils take win on Hilltoppers' court

Tanner Cook • Dec 22, 2018 at 2:36 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Gate City senior basketball player Zac Ervin had some big shoes to fill after Mac McClung graduated in the spring. So far this season, Ervin has welcomed the challenge and stepped up in a big way.

On Friday night inside the new Science Hill Gym, the Blue Devils earned an interstate 88-73 victory over Science Hill that was fueled by Ervin’s 49 points.

“This was a big win. This is a tough place to play and we played tough,” Ervin said. “Science Hill made some great runs and we showed a lot of resilience not letting it get to us and pulling away every time.”

Bradley Dean finished with a season-high 24 points for the Blue Devils.

Jake Matherne led a slew of 10 Science Hill scorers with 21 points. Kendle Cutlip and Will Stevens were also in double figures for the ’Toppers, netting 12 and 11, respectively.

Gate City (4-0) jetted out to a 22-10 lead after the first quarter behind solid shooting from behind the arc and some untimely Hilltoppers turnovers. Some “overrated” chants came from the Science Hill student section early on, but they seemed to just fuel Ervin.

The Devils hit nearly everything in the first half, exemplified by Ervin’s running 3-pointer at the horn that put them up 49-30 at the half.

The Hilltoppers (8-7) didn’t go quietly. They came out of the locker room on fire, going on a 12-0 run to cut the deficit to seven midway through the third quarter.

“We missed too many shots early and we dug ourselves a hole,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “We got it back to six or seven in the second half and we couldn’t get over the hump.

“They’re an outstanding offensive team and when they’re able to get to the free-throw line 25 times and shoot it effectively, making it 22 times, that’s hard to beat. That and shooting 53 percent from 3-point range is tough to overcome.”

Science Hill made the game interesting several times in the fourth, bothering the Blue Devils with a pesky 1-2-2 press.

However, the Blue Devils never relinquished the lead in taking the wire-to-wire win.

“We maintained our composure even though we made some foolish float passes,” Gate City coach Scott Vermillion said. “That’s why we scheduled Science Hill and that’s why we play good teams. It’s to expose those things and show film to them of how we turned it over.”

Both teams are competing in the Arby’s Classic next week at Viking Hall. Gate City plays Alabama’s Winona and Science Hill meets Carmel Christian of Georgia.

LADY ’TOPPERS CRUISE

The Lady Hilltoppers (11-2) got 16 points from junior sharpshooter Erin Egerbrecht and held the Lady Blue Devils (5-2) to just five made field goals in a 56-20 rout.

Science Hill’s advantage in both size and speed were noticeable.

“Our kids went out and played well,” Science Hill coach Scottie Whaley said. “We rebounded and shared the basketball really well. It was an all-around great performance.”

Jeila Greenlee and Alasia Smith each scored 11 for Science Hill, which totaled seven 3-pointers. Jaden Fullen’s six points were tops for Gate City.

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