Crowley — Behind the long-range shooting touch of Emmy Cunningham, the Italy Lady Gladiators, guided by head coach Melissa Fullmer, led early against the Era Lady Hornets with both teams vying for a bi-district championship.
Cunningham began the game with smooth-as-silk three-pointer to give Italy a 3-0 lead to start. Era answered with a bomb of their own to tie the match 3-3…and the battle was on.
Senior Janae Robertson asserted her will on both ends for Italy as did Decorea Green but it was Cunningham who fueled the Lady Gladiators with a 23-point first-half, including 6-three-pointers. April Lusk and Ta’Keya Pace made defense their priority as did Shercorya Chance, Lillie Perry and Talyia Wilson. With everyone doing their part, Italy led 38-31 at the break.
The second-half was fast and furious with Italy leading 40-31 and then 42-36 and then 45-42. Wait a minute! Era was getting back into the game and Italy was beginning to struggle on the offensive end. Another look up at the clock showed the Lady Hornets now leading 47-45, and then 49-45 by the end of the third-period. Oh no!
Era scored first in the fourth and lead 51-45 before a layup by Green closed the gap 51-47. A pair of free-throws by Green, a layup by Robertson and another layup by Shercorya Chance helped Italy keep pace but Era still led 58-53, and then 60-53 with 4:28 left to play.
Italy got a layup from Cunningham and another from Robertson but the Lady Gladiators continue to trail 63-57 with 2:30 showing on the clock. By this team, Cunningham had fouled out. But not giving up, a three-ball from Green tightened the score 63-60 with 0:45 seconds remaining.
After a jump ball call went Era’s direction, Coach Fullmer called a timeout in order to setup a full-court press. After the quick breather, Era inbounded from their own end and quickly got a shot attempt up on the opposite end. A shooting foul allowed Era to put in a free-throw and go up 64-60 with 0:40 seconds remaining. Green, trying to will her team to a win, managed to get to the line and put in 2 free-throws. That gave Italy hope with the outcome still undecided at 64-62.
Green nearly creates a steal before half-court but the ball goes out-of-bounds. Era inbounds again and gets fouled while in the act of shooting. Era makes 1-of-2 from the stripe to go up 65-62 with 0:20 to play. Italy manages to get a clean look at a possible game-tying three-pointer from the top of the key, but the shot rims off. Era secured the rebound along with the bi-district win by holding off the Lady Gladiators in an exciting first-round finish, 65-62.
Despite fouling out with a few minutes remaining, Cunningham finished the game with a game-high 30-points. Green scored 13-points and Robertson scored 13-points, as well.
Lady Gladiator Playoff Roster and Scoring vs. Era:
Thanks Seniors for the effort and the great memories!!!
- Shercora Chance
- Lillie Perry
- Janae Robertson
- Taleyia Wilson
- Brenya Williams (Manager)