Grapeland 78 Italy 32
By Will Johnson
CORSICANA – The postseason has now officially arrived for the Grapeland Sandies. The expectations of the team have been sky-high all year long and with a #5 state ranking in the Feb. 18 Class 2A Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll, it only adds to fuel to the fire.
The Sandies’ playoff run began on Monday as they traveled to Corsicana for a Bi-District game against the Italy Gladiators.
Grapeland had won District 20-2A while Italy had finished fourth in District 19-2A. Given the two teams’ respective records and district placings, it was no surprise as the Sandies jumped out to a 19-5 lead by the end of the first quarter and then coasted to a 78-32 win and Bi-District Championship.
Once the game began, Deco Bryant hit a pair of threes for the Sandies while Rick Frauenberger worked inside for five points. Javion Joseph added four while both Cadarian Wiley and Tyrin Wiley chipped in a basket to help give Grapeland an early, 14-point lead.
Italy’s five first quarter points came from Kort Holley with a three pointer and Al Waits with a pair of free throws.
As the second period of play began, the Grapeland defense continued to give the Italy offense fits as the Gladiators only managed six points which came on four from Holley and two from Evan Cunningham.
Meanwhile at the other end of the court, the Grapeland offense cranked it up with 27 points. Keizion Ashford led the way for the Sandies with seven second quarter points while both Keriaun Davis and C. Wiley had six apiece. Four other Sandies – Bryant, Joseph, T. Wiley and Josh Ackley – all had two each as Grapeland took a 46-11 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After the break, the Sandies put the game away as they opened up a 50 point lead by the end of the third quarter.
The only points the Gladiators posted in the third period came from Holley with eight.
Joseph paced the Sandies with seven points while both Ashford and Bryant had four. C. Wiley added three while both Davis and T. Wiley had two. Ackley made one of from the line to help give Grapeland a 69-19 lead after three periods of play.
In the fourth quarter, the Sandies put the game on cruise control as they only shot threes and turned down open shots. Bryant, Adam Driskell and Jack Woodford all connected from behind the arc to give Grapeland the 78-32 win and the Area Championship.
The Italy fourth quarter points came from Holley with seven, Michael South with five and Jayden Saxon with one.
For the game, Italy was led by Kort Holley with a game-high 22 points while Michael South dropped in five. Evan Cunningham and Al Wits had two apiece as Jayden Saxon had one to close out the Gladiators’ scoring.
The Sandies were led in scoring by Deco Bryant with 15 points and Javion Joseph with 13. Keizion Ashford and Cadarian Wiley both netted 11 while Keriaun Davis added eight. Tyrin Wiley went for six while Rick Frauenberger had five. Closing out the Grapeland scoring, Josh Ackley, Adam Driskell and Jack Woodford all chipped in three.
Following the game, Head Coach Cannon Earp spoke about his team’s performance.
“It was a good first round performance. They have a couple of really good guards who can really score. I thought we did a good job defensively,” he said.
The coach said his team mixed up several different styles of pressure defenses during the game to keep the Gladiators off-balanced.
“We don’t want other teams to get comfortable at all. It was a mix of zone and man-press with a little bit of a half-court trap thrown in there,” he said.
Commenting on the offense, Earp said, “I don’t know why we have a hard time getting started, but once we get rolling, it’s a snowball effect. Our best games are when we have those spurts of 10 or 12 in a row. We had a couple of those in the second quarter that helped put the game out of reach. I was happy with our night.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.