The Italy Gladiators traveled to Leon High School to face the Tenaha Tigers in the Regional Semi-final game on Friday night.
The quickness of both teams was a factor in the first half on both sides of the ball. At the end of the first period the Tigers had a 25 to 20 lead. In the second quarter the Gladiators stepped up their game and finished the half with a 39-39 tie.
The fast pace of the game continued in the second half. Jay Lloyd scored 13 of his 20 points in the 3rd to put Tenaha on top 67-57 going into the final quarter.
The Gladiators struggled in the 4th. The tigers scored on forced turnovers and outscored Italy 25-10. When the final buzzer sounded Tenaha was on top 92-67.
The scoreboard did not tell the best part of this season’s story. With around a minute left in the game, the Tenaha coach sent Fer’Davion Thomas, a player with special needs, into the game. What happened next proved the Gladiators were true champions in the most important sense of the word. It was evident that they were the real winners of this game.
Instead of driving down court to try to score, Gladiator Christion Washington passed the ball to Thomas who shot and missed. Washington then helped Thomas position himself under the goal. Kenneth Norwood passed the ball to him again and he hit the lay up. Everyone was on their feet cheering for Thomas and applauding the Gladiators. Until the final buzzer sounded, Kendrick Norwood continued to feed him the ball and he attempted 3 pointers. It was a moment that everyone will not soon forget.
Scoring for Italy: Keith Davis, II 14, Kendrick Norwood 12, Kevin Johnson 11, Jeremiah Thompson 9, Christian Lightfoot 6, James Walton 6, Christion Washington 5 and Kenneth Norwood 4.
Scoring for Tenaha: JaQualin Franks 26, Jay Lloyd 20, Cody Foshee 15, Hayden Jenkins 14, Trai Gardner 7, Josh Waters 4, T.K. Gardner 4 and Fer’Davion Thomas 2.