Year in review: Lady Devils’ state hoops title sets 2019-20 standard

Kevin Mays • May 11, 2020 at 1:00 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a year-in-review series looking at the top athletic achievements by Southwest Virginia high schools in 2019-20.

GATE CITY — Gate City sports teams were on a roll until being brought to a sudden halt by the coronavirus pandemic this spring.

Gate City has the distinction of being the only school in the commonwealth to have two teams play on the final day of VHSL competition for the 2019-20 school year.

The Lady Blue Devils basketball team also has the distinction of being one of only two outright VHSL champions in the sport and the only outright girls basketball state champion from the past season.

After Gate City’s girls and boys both played in the VHSL Class 2 basketball championship games at Virginia Commonwealth’s Siegel Center on March 12, the VHSL shut down play. The VHSL Executive Committee officially canceled the spring sports seasons last week, making the Class 2 basketball championships the final sporting events of the school year.


Led by NCAA Division I prospect Sarah Thompson’s 19 points and eight rebounds, the Lady Blue Devils earned a 65-54 win over Luray to claim the state basketball title, the second for the program.

Thompson, a junior, averaged 16.8 points, 6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.4 steals per game for the season and was named the Class 2 girls player of the year by both the VHSL and the Virginia High School Coaches Association.

Thompson also was selected the Times News All-Southwest Virginia Player of the Year.

Gate City’s Kelly Houseright, the Times News All-Southwest Virginia Coach of the Year, also earned coach of the year honors from the VHSL and VHSCA for Class 2 girls teams.


Gate City had another stellar boys basketball season, advancing to the state championship before falling 75-57 to John Marshall.

Bradley Dean, another DI prospect, scored 31 points in the state final.

Dean surpassed 2,000 points for his career, in the process making Gate City the only public school in the nation to have a 2,000-point scorer in three consecutive years.

A VHSL Class 2 all-state first-team selection, Dean was named the Times News All-Southwest Virginia Player of the Year, and the Blue Devils’ Scotty Vermillion was named the Times News All-Southwest Virginia Coach of the Year.


Michael Calhoun also brought back a state championship to Gate City by capturing the gold in the shot put competition during the VHSL Class 2 indoor track and field championships at Salem.


Junior Megan Cooper won both the 200 and 500 freestyle events at the Mountain 7 District swimming championships and finished fifth in the 200 freestyle in the VHSL Class 2 championships in Richmond.


Gate City’s volleyball squad played its way into the state tournament. The Lady Blue Devils, the runners-up in Region 2D, fell to eventual state champion Radford in the Class 2 quarterfinals.


Under new coach Jeremy Houseright, the Blue Devils opened the season by stunning highly favored Richlands on the road. They then dropped six straight before a three-game winning streak propelled them into the postseason. Gate City’s season ended with a 20-19 heartbreaker against Union in the Region 2D quarterfinals.


Luke Wallen shot an 84 to lead Gate City to a second-place finish in the Mountain 7 District tournament at Abingdon’s Glenrochie Country Club.


Gate City’s boys advanced to the Region 2D championships after finishing third in the Mountain 7 meet at Sugar Hollow in Bristol.

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