BRISTOL, Va. – The career of one of Southwest Virginia’s elite girls basketball players came to an end on Saturday night. The impressive exploits of another area star appear to just be getting started.
Gate City sophomore Morgan Gose had a game for the ages – going off for 42 points – as the Blue Devils claimed a 61-49 victory over Patrick Henry in the quarterfinals of the VHSL Group A, Division 2 tournament at Virginia High’s Bearcat Den.
Patrick Henry senior Cadence Wilmoth had 33 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks in her final game for the Rebels, but the night belonged to Gose and Gate City.
Some observers had Gose unofficially finishing the night with 44 points, but she wasn’t spending time tallying up the figures from the best game of her life.
“I’m just glad we won,” Gose said. “I don’t care how many points I got.”
Gose was credited with hitting 15-of-25 shots from the field – including 2-of-4 from 3-point range – and also connected on 10 of her 12 shots from the foul line. Throw in six steals and two rebounds and it was a night to remember.
Gate City coach Kelly Smith Houseright was left in amazement by the play of the talented 10th grader.
“For a sophomore, she’s something special,” Houseright said. “She proved that tonight. Since we started the district tournament, she’s really turned it on.”
That could be said for Gate City’s entire team. The Blue Devils were just 5-11 at one point in the season but will now play a state semifinal game against Stuarts Draft at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center on Thursday night.
Photo by Earl Neikirk, BHC
“No one thought we could make it this far, but we knew in our hearts that we could make it,” Gose said.
Gate City (16-13) never trailed on Saturday and controlled the tempo with a heavy dose of Gose and relentless defensive pressure.
Wilmoth had 21 points in the first half to keep Patrick Henry (22-6) within five at the break. However, the Blue Devils extended their lead to double digits over the final 16 minutes.
“[Gose] wasn’t missing anything,” said PH coach Tommy Thomas. “That’s what I told our girls – you played a great game and played good defense. You played well enough to beat most teams, we just happened to have a night where a good player was having a great night.”
Thomas also praised his own standout. Wilmoth rewrote the school record book during her time at the Washington County school and closed the book on her days in a PH uniform with 2,075 career points.
“I hated to let Cadence go out and not win a state championship, just because from what I’ve seen, she’s one of the best players in the state,” Thomas said. “She’s unbelievable. We just had a couple of bad breaks and didn’t get it finished tonight.”
Kasey Uecker, Photo by Earl Niekirk, BHC
The subplot of the Gose-Wilmoth battle was intriguing throughout the course of the game. If Wilmoth was considered the queen of the hardwood in Southwest Virginia, Saturday’s game might have served as a changing of the guard.
“She’s a tough player,” Gose said of Wilmoth. “But we’re just a better team overall.”
A team that is headed to Richmond thanks to the offensive explosion of a sensational soph.
“We just came out ready to play,” Gose said. “We wanted to win this so bad. We’ve worked our butts off all season to get here and finally made it. We’re going to state.”