Gate City, Union girls punch tickets to state tourney

Kevin Mays • Feb 29, 2020 at 2:34 AM

WISE — For Gate City, it was all about defense.

The Lady Blue Devils took advantage of 22 Lebanon turnovers to craft a 53-44 victory on Friday in the Region 2D girls basketball semifinals at Virginia-Wise’s Prior Convocation Center.

“It’s a process and we work on it every day,” said Gate City coach Kelly Houseright, whose team scored 20 points off turnovers while turning over the ball only five times. “It’s the focus of our program. We understand we can’t get very far if we can’t defend.”

Gate City advanced to Saturday’s regional championship game to face a familiar foe. The Lady Blue Devils (17-10) play Union (19-7) for the title at 6 p.m. at UVA Wise after the Lady Bears pulled out a 55-47 win over Ridgeview in the other regional semifinal game.

See Sammy Belcher’s 📸📸 from Friday’s Region 2D semifinals


Sarah Thompson scored 20 points and had four steals to lead the Lady Blue Devils.

“Coming in to the game, we plan to finish every game playing defense and pressuring. If we do our job on the defensive end, then they’re going to turn it over to us and we’re going to get shots on the offensive end,” Thompson noted.

Lebanon coach Rex Parker said Gate City employed a level of defensive pressure his team hadn’t faced all season.

“We knew it was a key coming in, how we’d be able to handle their pressure because we hadn’t seen anyone like them that stays on you 94 feet for the whole game,” Parker said.

“The first half we didn’t do a very good job of it and I thought the second half we did a little bit better,” he added. “But we were always chasing them.”

Sophomore Macey Mullins came up big for Gate City on both ends of the floor. She had four steals and finished with 10 points, including three 3-point shots.

“I went a couple of games without scoring and that was pretty hard,” Mullins said. “But I started hitting a few. Once I hit a few, I start getting my confidence back up.”

Senior Averie Price led the Lady Pioneers (19-6) with 16 points and Morgan Varney had 11.


The Lady Bears reached the state tournament for the first time since 2016, which ended in a 51-48 loss to Ridgeview. Union’s four seniors were in the eighth grade then.

Since that time, the goal has been to make it back to the state.

“You always want to make it to the state tournament. Obviously, you want to bring home a ring, too, but just to make it and get a chance to play there is awesome,” said senior Emili Brooks, who finished with 15 points for the Lady Bears.

But there are other goals spelled out on the whiteboard in the team’s locker room.

“At the beginning of the season we sat down and we wrote some goals for the season, some goals we wanted to achieve toward district and region and, obviously, get to the state tournament and have a chance to win a state championship,” Union coach Kory Bostic said.

Senior Heather Lipps scored 12 points for the Lady Bears and freshman Brook Bailey added 10. Jayda Smith, another senior, tallied nine points and 15 rebounds.

Ridgeview (21-6) got 21 points from Brooke Frazier and 16 from Hailey Sutherland.

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