By JT Shatzer
After starting their first four games on the road, The Gladiators Men’s Basketball team found themselves in a tenacious fight against Chapelgate Christian Academy in their home opener. Despite being an out of conference matchup, the atmosphere in the gym was filled with excitement, and some students even showed up nearly an hour early to ensure an opportunity to support the Gladiators in their first game at home. As the Gladiators jogged into the gym after meeting in the locker room before the game, the gym erupted with energy. As warmups concluded, the starting five players of each team were introduced, and both groups took the court for the ensuing tipoff.
The Gladiators started out the game with an extremely high amount of energy, and jumped out to an astonishing 19-3 lead by the end of the first quarter thanks to the sharpshooting of Senior Nathan Curtis. Curtis came out the gates on fire, scoring 13 points in the first quarter alone while making five out of the seven shots he took. When asked about his impressive first quarter performance, Curtis explained, “The energy of our fans carried us through that first quarter. Once I made my first two shots and heard the entire student section going crazy, I felt like I could do anything out there.” As the first quarter came to an end, the gym was even louder than it was to start the game, and it seemed like that trend was going to continue throughout the whole game.
At the start of the second quarter, the Gladiators picked up right where they had left off minutes before. At one point, the lead was 25-3, the largest lead they would have all game. After a few minutes of looking completely discombobulated, Chaplegate head coach Frick Frierson decided to call a timeout and express his frustration to his players. Following the timeout, the Chaplegate players came out with tenacity, almost as if they had something to prove. Everyone in the building, even the Chaplegate fans, were shocked to see the Yellow Jackets go on a 10-0 run, and end up outscoring the Gladiators by the end of the second quarter. The Yellow Jackets possesed momentum going into halftime despite being down by 13.
The Yellow Jackets came out for the second half with aggression, and ended up cutting the Gladiator’s lead to just seven points by the end of the third quarter. At this point, the gym was only a fraction as loud as it had been earlier, a sense of nervousness seemed to develop in a crowd that was once filled with enthusiasm. After the horn for the end of the third quarter sounded, the frustration in the eyes of Gladiator’s head coach Alex Blazek was evident. After an inspiring speech given to his players between the third and fourth quarter, the Gladiators had new-found energy. Sophomore Bisi Owens came out shooting lights out, going three for four on three point attempts that quarter, and ending the game with over twenty points. Junior Niko Garbis had extremely high praises for his teammate after the game, as he stated, “He just couldn’t miss. The fact that he was able to play the way he did as only a Sophomore is amazing, and I can’t wait to see what he can do for us throughout the rest of the season.” The late-game spark from Owens ended up pushing the Gladiators back out ahead by double digits, leading them to a 12 point win in a thrilling season opener.
Make sure to stay in tune for more updates on your Gladiators throughout the season!