Italy 7th & 8th grade boys hoop-it-up against the Hampton Phoenix

Image: Italy Hosts Hampton — IJHS 7th and 8th grade boys played against Hampton Preparatory on Monday night.

Italy Hosts Hampton — IJHS 7th and 8th grade boys played against Hampton Preparatory on Monday night. (Anne Sutherland)

7th grade boys basketball – An undefeated Italy Gladiators squad played tenacious against the Hampton Prepatory Phoenix who featured one of the top young prospects in the state. Both squads are loaded with talent as anticipation filling the Coliseum before the game started.

Hampton standout Jeremiah Jefferson #15 has averaged 27 points per game in the first few games of the season. Jefferson’s sister, Moriah Jefferson (Cedar Hill), was recently featured in USA Today for being the top 8th grade girls basketball player in the State of Texas.

And it wouldn’t take long to see what the buzz was all about as Jefferson hit the first four points of the contest with effortless drives to the basket. Although Jefferson was the tallest player on the court, he is the ball handler for Hampton’s high powered offense. Not easily impressed, however, Italy’s Trey Robertson responded with a top of the lane jumper to make the score 4-2 at the 3:30 mark of the first period.

Hampton’s H. Lilly #23 converted a steal into points making the score 6-2. Hampton’s Lilly followed that with a drive to the line to make it 8-2. Italy’s Darol Mayberry hits a soft jumper keeping Italy close 8-4. Hampton’s Lilly scored on a layin and Jefferson added 2 more to make the score 12-4. The score at the end of the 1st had Hampton leading 12-6.

Jefferson’s 3-pointer to start the second period was denied due to a Hampton lane violation. Italy’s Mayberry took advantage when his 3-point attention-getter made the score 12-9. Italy’s point guard Eric Carson creates a steal and capitalizes to draw within 1-point of Hampton 12-11 at the 5:07 mark in the second. Jefferson would score the next 4-points, 2-points by leading the fast break and 2 more by getting a rebound and a put-back to make the score 16-11 at the 4:40 mark of the second.

Italy’s Robertson passes to Justin Wood who gets the deuce and the score is 16-13. Jefferson fires back scoring 4 straight points to increase Hampton’s lead 20-13 with :48 remaining before halftime. Italy’s Carson drove the baseline and scored 2-points just before the buzzer. Hampton was playing well but couldn’t shake the scrappy Italy squad and only led 20-15 at the break.

With Jefferson leading the way, it was all Hampton for the remainder of the third. Italy managed to connect on a layup but the third period ended with Hampton seemingly in control 36-21.

After an early period joust with both squads scoring back and forth, Italy’s Robertson gets a block that leads to a Mayberry layup making the score 40-27 with 3:49 left in the game. Mayberry followed that with a triple and the score was now 40-30. Italy then hits a driven layup and draws the and-1 foul from Jefferson. The free throw is good and the score is now 40-33.

Jefferson hits for Hampton and Italy countered to make the score 42-35. After Hampton scored 6 straight points, Mayberry made another 3-pointer to end the game 48-38 in facor of the Phoenix.

Italy scoring:
33-Darol Mayberry, 13-points
12-[Name Withheld], 11-points
13-Justin Wood, 6-points
1-Eric Carson, 4-points
3-Trey Robertson, 4-points

Hampton scoring:
15-Jeremiah Jefferson, 32-points
23-H. Lilly, 14-points
20-C. Turner, 2-points

8th grade boys basketball – Italy’s Cole Hopkins started off the contest with Hampton swishing a 3-pointer to give the Gladiators the early lead 3-0. At the the 3:43 mark of the first quarter, Hampton’s J. Montgomery scored to give the Phoenix a 4-3 lead. Hampton never trailed again as they ended the first period well in control 15-8.

Italy looked confident and apparently ready to move past their early season struggles. However, the Hampton Phoenix are loaded with talent and would make it difficult for the Gladiators to break-out of their slump. Italy point guard Tony Wooldridge is playing with 110% effort trying to will his team to a victory. And although things don’t go as planned, Wooldridge leads by example and just keeps plugging away.

Italy’s Tyvion Copeland stepped up his game in this one trying to take some pressure off his hard-working point guard. Unfortunately, Hampton was already pulling away by the end of the first period which showed Hampton out in front 16-7.

The next period was full of lost opportunities for the Gladiators. The defense was forcing turnovers but seldom converted them into points. On the offensive end, Italy got into the lane but scores eluded them. The second period ended with Hampton well in front 25-16.

In the third, Italy plays their best but can’t make a dent in the Phoenix lead. Italy’s Reed Jacinto and Chase Hamilton anchor Italy’s defense but stops against Hampton were difficult to manufacture. Second chance offensive rebounds put Hampton comfortably in the lead 37-22.

In the end, Washinton & Dawson, for Hampton, just overwhelmed the Gladiators.
The final score was 47-32 with the Hampton Phoenix spreading their wings in victory.

Italy scoring:
4-Tony Wooldridge, 9-points
24-Copeland, 11-points
10-Chase Hamilton, 6-points
21-Cole Hopkins, 6-ponts

Hampton scoring:
1-X. Washington, 12-points
32-K. Dawson, 11-points
23-K. Blakely, 4-points
15-L. Jackson, 2-points
42-N. Williams, 4-points
20-J. Rosborough, 2-points