Italy – The Italy Gladiators (23-6, 12-1) hosted the Maypearl Panthers (16-9, 8-5) on Friday night and handed its district rivals a 54-44 loss.

Italy led 17-10 after one before both teams were plagued with turnovers in the second. Larry Mayberry hit two quick layups to give the Gladiators a 23-15 lead. Colton Campbell increased Italy’s lead with a baseline jumper. With 2:00 left in the half, the Panthers turned on the heat. Marcus Hernandez added two and Keenan Brown struck twice in 30 seconds to cut Italy’s lead to eight. Jasenio Anderson countered with a long three to give Italy a 30-19 halftime lead.

 Italy struggled in the third and Maypearl turned up the heat with a 9-0 run. With 2 seconds on the clock, Brown hit a three to tie the game 33-33. The Panthers had their best quarter and outscored the Gladiators 14-3 in the third.

 Vaughan struck first in the final period to give the Panthers the lead. Brown hit a jumper to increase their lead 38-33. Anderson dug in when it really mattered and hit back to back threes to give the Gladiators a 39-38 lead. Maypearl never quit fighting for the win, but Italy’s shooting proved to be too strong. When the final buzzer sounded, Italy chalked up the win 54-44.

“I expected Maypearl to be very physical and they were,” said Italy head coach Aidan Callahan. “We had to use our depth and play well. We had the best practice yesterday that we have had in a very long time which helped. I am very proud of our team.”

Anderson had 18 for Italy while Campbell had 12. Maypearl was led by Brown’s 17 points.

Italy hosts Axtell Tuesday in its last district game.