ITALY — Despite 30 points from Lady Wildcat senior captain Britney Longmiles, Italy High School notched its eighth straight win after beating Cayuga High School 58-53 on Friday at IHS Gymnasium.
To beat a Cayuga team reeling from a loss to LaPoynor High School, though, Italy's varsity girls' basketball team needed every player — from senior Decorea Green to freshman Shaniya Johnson.
The (22-3, 5-1) Lady Gladiators had three players post double-figure performances and nearly had a third. Green (14 pts), senior Aarion Copeland (13 pts) and junior Emmy Cunningham (12 pts) led the team and Johnson scored seven points.
Brycelen Richards (5), Vanessa Cantu (4) and T'Keyah Pace (3) chipped in efforts toward the win.
The Lady Gladiator defense — outside of Longmiles — contained the remaining six girls on the active roster to 23 total points. Junior point guard Nicole Lackey scored 10 points but was held scoreless in the first half.
Italy built a 24-20 halftime lead despite Longmiles scoring 13 of her total in the first two quarters. The Lady Wildcats rallied in the third quarter, however, using Lackey and their captain to score 15 points and cut the deficit to five points.
Copeland, as well as Cantu, Green and Pace, helped seal the game in the closing eight minutes, though. While Copeland scored a decisive 11 points in the final quarter, Cantu and Green added four and Pace added a free throw helping Italy outscore their district rival 18-15.
The Lady Gladiators will play LaPoynor, the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' No. 4 girls' 2A team, at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at IHS Gymnasium in a rematch of the Dec. 13 matchup.
Italy is 5-2 when playing at home. Its only two losses at the dome came during a 61-19 loss to 4A Alvarado High School on Nov. 17 and a 67-41 defeat by 3A Blooming Grove High School on Nov. 19 during the Italy Varsity Tournament.
The (11-1, 6-0) Lady Flyers are undefeated in District 19-2A, have won 12 games in a row and scored at least 46 points in every game. A victory by Italy would tie the teams for the district lead and force a possible rubber match to determine the champion.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at for story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.