Robinson – Coach Aidan Callahan’s Italy Gladiators gave the Hearne Eagles all they could handle on Wednesday night in the Class 2A Region II quarterfinal match-up at Robinson High School.
When the final buzzer sounded, Italy brought home a 93-75 win and were named quarterfinal champs.
Italy (25-7) took an early 10-2 lead, but Rodrick Jackson dropped in the first of his eight three pointers to cut the lead in half.
Jackson ended the night with 29 points but it was not enough to keep Italy from advancing.
With 2:00 left in the opening quarter he struck with another long three-pointer to tie the game 16-16. Sexton Curry gave the Eagles a two point lead, but Heath Clemons retaliated with a quick lay up to tie the game again 18-18. When the quarter ended, Italy trailed 26-20.
Italy struck early in the second with jumpers from Heath Clemons and Jasenio Anderson.
With 2:09 left in the half, Anderson stole the ball and drove coast to coast for a lay up to give Italy a 34-33 lead.
Jackson came right back with another three to regain the lead before Italys’s De’Andre Sephus stole the ball and passed to Anderson who dropped in a baseline jumper to cut the Eagles lead to three. Italy trailed 39-36 at half.
The Gladiators claimed the game in the third period when the offense dropped in 34 points and the defense held the Eagles to 20.
Sephus came off the bench and did damage to the Eagle shooters with steals and forced turnovers.
Anderson got the Italy fans going with three consecutive three-pointers in under two minutes and scored 13 of his game high 35 points in the period.
Italy took the lead, 57-55, with 2:36 left on the clock and never trailed again. In the last minute of the third quarter, Devonte Simmons grabbed four rebounds and dropped in four lay ups to hand the Gladiators a 70-59 lead going into the final period.
Even with Jackson hitting four three-pointers, Hearne could not out keep up with Italy in the final period. Blocks by Cole Hopkins and steals by Anderson, Clemons and Holden helped Italy hand Hearne their last loss of the season.
Italy will play Ponder at 8 p.m. Friday at Tarleton State University Wisdom Gym in the Class 2A Region II semifinal game.
Anderson scored 35 for Italy while, Simmons had 15, Clemons 14, Holden 10, Larry Mayberry six, Sephus six, Hopkins four, Ryan Ashcraft two and Colton Campbell one.
Scoring for Hearne (23-11) were Jackson with 29, Cornelius Workman 13, De’Aundres Lewis 10, Sexton Curry eight, Clifton Potts six, Cody Rosprim six and Jemarcus Johnson three.
Italy is two wins away from advancing to the state tournament.