The Italy JV Lady Gladiators, head coached by Tina Richards, tried to make up for a slight height disadvantage presented by Kemp’s JV Lady Yellow Jackets with tough and tenacious defense. Pressure on the ball definitely slowed the JV Lady Jackets, but at the end of the first quarter, Kemp lead 6-0.
In the second, Kendra Copeland got Italy’s JV girls on the board first with a 10-footer from the right of the lane, 6-2. Kemp quickly answered on the ensuing fast break to go up 8-2 with 4:15 left in the first half.
A pass from Jessica Hernandez to Ryisha Copeland inside kept Italy close, 8-4 at the 3:30 mark. Kemp was charged with an inbound violation and Italy’s Ashley Harper made the JV Lady Jackets pay with a shot over a Kemp defender’s outstretched hand to make the score 8-6.
Again, Kemp retaliated on their next possession to keep a two shot advantage, 10-6 with 2:57 remaining. Kemp gets the ball into the low post for another basket to increase their lead back to six, 12-6. Italy’s Shelbi Gilley earns a shooting foul after a low post power move. Gilley hits the second free-throw to close the gap on Kemp, 12-7.
Kemp fast breaks to push further ahead 14-7 with 1:15 left before intermission. Gilley feeds Khadijah Davis on the give-and-go and Davis draws a shooting foul and steps to the line. Davis hits the 1-of-2 freebies to make the score 14-8, 0:29 remains.
In the closing seconds, Kemp hurries down the floor and gets straight to the basket for a layup, 16-8. Kemp steels the ball and knocks down a jumper with 0:08 left, 18-8. Italy is unable to answer and the halftime score remains 18-8.
Kemp builds a 20-8 lead early in the third. At the 4:52 mark, Italy’s Davis finds the range to cut the deficit in half, 20-10. Kemp goes up 22-10 and has a chance to add to their advantage after a technical foul is charged to Italy. The JV Lady Jackets come empty from the free-throw line and Davis scores again at the 1:30 mark, 22-12.
Kemp hits one of two free-shots before the quarter ends and take a 23-12 lead into the final stanza. Point guard Kendra Copeland and post Monserrat Figueroa help the JV Lady Gladiators make one final surge but Kemp holds on and wins 31-24.
The Italy Lady Gladiators and head coach Stacy McDonald start their 2010-2011 season 1-0 after defeating the Kemp Yellow Jackets 45-39 at home under the dome. Only losing one senior from last year’s roster in Jaleecia Fleming, the Lady Gladiators entered the game against Kemp extremely determined after going two rounds in the playoffs this past season.
You could see it in their eyes while the team patiently waited in the stands during the JV game. It was total focus. juniors Megan Richards, Jimesha Reed, Kaitlyn Rossa, Bailey Bumpus and Kyonne Birdsong, along with sophomores Jameka Copeland, Chante Birdsong and Alyssa Richards, will play major roles in Italy’s overall success this season.