ITALY – The Italy Gladiators (22-6, 11-1) suffered their first district loss Tuesday night, 58-52, when the Grandview Zebras came to town ready to play.
The Zebras’ strong shooting gave them a 22-11 lead at the end of the first period.
Italy turned up the heat in the second with strong shooting by Jasenio Anderson, Jase Holden and Heath Clemons. With 1:03 left in the half, Anderson tied the game at 27 with a baseline jumper. Grandview’s Derrick Jarrell countered with two quick three-pointers. Jarrell scored all of Grandview’s points in the period.
Driving down the court, Anderson sank a long three at the buzzer, which brought the Gladiators within three. Italy outscored Grandview 19-11 to close the gap to 33-30 at the break.
Holden started the second half strong on offense with seven of Italy’s 12 third quarter points. Italy’s press held Grandview to 11 and Italy closed the gap to two, 44-42.
The final period was a battle on both sides of the ball for the Gladiators.
With 6:02 remaining on the clock, Clemons stole the ball, passing it to Anderson, who dropped in a layup. On the next play, Clemons took it away again and passed to Anderson who dropped in a long three pointer. Anderson scored all of Italy’s 10 final period points.
The Zebras never let up the pressure and handed Italy it first district loss.
“One of our strengths this year is our press,” said Gladiator head coach Aidan Callahan. “We also make good decisions and our bench has played very well.”
High scorers for Italy were Anderson with 20 and Holden with 15. Leading the scoring for Grandview was Jarrell with 18.
The Gladiators will host the Maypearl Panthers in the Dome Friday night in a game between county rivals.