Even when they were outnumbered, the Italy Lady Gladiator Junior Varsity basketball team never gave up. They fought hard on the court to defeat the Axtell Lady Longhorn J.V. 23-21 on Tuesday night in the dome. Italy started the game with only 5 players -Axtell suited up 11 players.
The game was tied 7-7 at the end of the 1st quarter. Italy took the lead and kept it in the 2nd quarter until Berry hit a jumper with 2:15 remaining in the half to give Axtell a 15-13 lead. When the 2nd quarter ended, Axtell was on top 17-13.
With less than 3 minutes off the clock in the 3rd quarter, Italy’s Lizzie Garcia was sidelined with a knee injury. Because Italy had no subs, this gave Axtell a big 5-4 player advantage on the court. Alex Minton stepped up on offense and scored 4 quick points with feeds from her teammates. T’Keyah Pace hit a lay up to tie the game 19-19.
In the final quarter, strong defense by the four Lady Gladiators kept the game tied at 19. With 1:22 remaining in the game, Axtell gained a 5-3 advantage when Annie Perry fouled Harrison and fouled out. Harrison hit one of two free throws to give Axtell a 1 point lead.
Minton hit a lay up to give Italy a 21-20 lead. Axtell turned the ball over giving Italy the opportunity they had been waiting for. Minton passed to Vanessa Cantu under the goal. Cantu hit the lay up to put Italy ahead 23-20. Cantu fouled Anz who hit one of two free throws cutting the lead to 2. When the final buzzer sounded, Italy was on top 23-21.
“I am fortunate to coach this amazing group of girls,” said Coach Tina Richards. “It was a fight to the end and I am so happy we came up with the win. We learned to adjust to a 5-4 then a 5-3 disadvantage. I am proud of what our girls did tonight. They proved they are winners.”
Scorers for Italy:
Alex Minton – 15
T’Keyah Pace – 4
Annie Perry – 2
Vanessa Cantu – 2
Scorers for Axtell:
Berry – 13
Harrison – 5
Anz – 3