On Saturday morning, however, in an elimination game at the 36th Arby’s Classic, junior guard Bradley Dean had a beastly shooting performance, scoring 43 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 83-68 win over Sullivan East.
Ervin did finish the contest with 25, but Dean had a superb first half of 27, including five 3-pointers.
“He was very hot in that first half. When he gets going like that, he’s deadly from the perimeter,” Gate City head coach Scott Vermillion said. “They spent a lot of effort guarding Zac out top and I knew that would open some things up. … They looked like they were playing some triangle and two at the beginning. The zone did bother us at first, but we made a lot of shots.”
Dayne Davis had 17 points to lead the Patriots and Dylan Bartley netted 16.
The Patriots went 8 for 34 from 3-point range, but forced only eight turnovers.
“(Dean and Ervin) are outstanding,” East head coach John Dyer said. “We just couldn’t stay in front of Dean. He played great. We never made them uncomfortable on offense and that was the whole key to the game.”
The Devils shot lights out, going 27 for 50 from the field and 9-of-18 from beyond the arc. They also hit 20 of 24 free throws. On the stat sheet, it was total domination — but the Patriots hardly trailed by more than 13 points until later in the game.
“We can’t beat the experience of coming to the Arby’s playing three great teams in three days,” Dyer said. “(Scott) is a great coach and a great man. He’s the leader of that program and what a great program he has. His program is all class.”
With the win, Gate City advances to the sixth-place game on Monday at 1 p.m. against Dobyns-Bennett. This will be the first meeting in the regular season since 2012.
“The biggest thing about (Dobyns-Bennett) is that they are well coached and they can score in a lot of places,” Vermillion said. “They’re hard to read and they’re hard to get a beat on. That’s the kind of team that’s hard to beat. They aren’t going to give us anything. They’re a good team, bottom line.”
The two schools are separated by a short 11.2 miles through downtown Kingsport, over Lynn Garden and across the state line. This will be a rare matchup and highly anticipated considering how good the programs have been over the last two seasons.
What a way to finish off 2018 for local high school basketball fans.