Italy Gladiator Basketball finishes season giving 110% against Itasca

Image: Kenneth Norwood, Jr.(22) led Italy with 17-points, including three 3-pointers, but the Itasca Wampus Cats got the 53-45 win, foiling the Gladiators and their playoff hopes.

Kenneth Norwood, Jr.(22) led Italy with 17-points, including three 3-pointers, but the Itasca Wampus Cats got the 53-45 win, foiling the Gladiators and their playoff hopes. (Barry Byers)

Italy — Needing a win to force a wildcard game between the two schools for the right to go to the playoffs, the Italy Gladiators hit the floor running against the visiting Itasca Wampus Cats in their final district game of the 2015 season.

The Gladiators were getting a determined effort from junior Ryan Connor on both sides of the court and teammates Kendrick Norwood and Kyle Tindol were creating havoc all night. A tough rebound and put back by David De La Hoya and 5 first-period points by Kenneth Norwood, Jr., including a three-pointer, gave Italy the edge after the first-period, 9-8.

Scoring heated up for both teams in the second-period with Italy junior Ty Windham dropping in a jumper from the lane and Kendrick Norwood making 1-of-2 from the free-throw line.

Itasca then threatened to pull away before the break but Kenneth Norwood, Jr. scored 10 straight points for Italy, including back-to-back three-point net poppers to close the gap.

Italy continued matching Itasca point for point when a buzzer-beating three bomb by senior Gladiator John Escamilla tied the contest 25-25 at intermission. Kendrick Norwood shared a flying air bump with Escamilla as the Gladiators rushed enthusiastically into the locker room.

In the second half, senior Gladiator Cody Boyd and teammate David De La Hoya continued to scrap for every rebound and challenge every shot. Gladiator head coach Brandon Ganske and assistant coach Charles Tindol kept the guys motivated during breaks in the action.

Senior Gary Kinkaid dazzled fans by scoring on a reverse layup and Connor was fouled on a drive to the hoop drawing the and-1. Connor made the bonus shot and Italy was hanging tough.

Kenneth Norwood, Jr. again scored on a drive to the hoop and Escamilla was again good from beyond the arc but the Cats led 37-35 going into the fourth.

Italy kept plugging away in the final period to tie the game up, yet again, 45-45. Windham had put in a three-ball and Tindol scored on a layup. Kendrick Norwood drained his second three-pointer and Connor again scored on a drive into the paint. The final minutes were all Itasca, however, who scored 8 unanswered points to win, 53-45.

Cannot say enough about the Gladiators who gave maximum effort, not only against Itasca, but during the course of the entire season. That willingness to never stop trying will be a good foundation for Italy to build off of next season. GLADIATOR PRIDE!!!

Gladiator Game Roster and Scoring:

Gladiator(#) Free-throws 3-pointers Points
Joe Celis(1)
Gary Kinkaid(2) 2
Cody Boyd(4)
Ryan Connor(11) 1-of-3 5
John Escamilla(13) 2 6
Kendrick Norwood(14) 1-of-2 1 6
Kyle Tindol(20) 2
David De La Hoya(21) 2
Ty Windham(12) 0-of-2 1 5
Kenneth Norwood, Jr.(22) 3 17

Box Score:

Team 1st 2nd Halftime 3rd 4th Final
Italy 9 16 25 10 10 45
Itasca 8 17 25 12 16 53

JV Action:
The night started with an exciting matchup between Italy’s JV Gladiators and the Itasca’s JV with the game coming down to the final buzzer, and then two free shots for Itasca.

An offensive rebound and a put back by Italy’s Austin Crawford tied the game 35-35 with seconds remaining. Itasca got off a running layup to beat the buzzer but the shot was off the mark. Unfortunately for the home team, Itasca was fouled in the act and was given two free-shots after time had expired.

Alone on the court, Itasca’s Matthew Lara missed the first shot but made the second shot to lift the JV Wampus Cats to a 36-25 district win.

Playing well for Italy were Gary Escamilla, James Walton, Garrett Janek, Jorge Galvan, Austin Crawford, Anthony Lusk and Ty Hamilton. Head coaching Italy’s JV team was Bobby Campbell.

Special thanks to bookkeeper Misty Escamilla

Gladiator Proud!!!