Monarchs maul Gladiators in playoff opener

Feb. 19—CLEBURNE — After a successful regular season, the Poolville Monarchs opened up their postseason run with a matchup against the Italy Gladiators in the bi-district round. The senior-laden Monarchs raced out to a large, early lead and cruised to the finish line, defeating Italy by a final score of 66-34 at Jeff D. Cody Arena at Cleburne High School on Monday night.

Poolville sprinted to a 23-6 lead after one quarter of play and kept its foot on the gas in the second quarter, which resulted in a 33-16 halftime lead. In the third, senior guard Dylan Tovar drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6:02 to go to push the advantage to 46-22. Later in the frame, senior forward Drew Ayers made a layup at the 2:20 mark and 6-foot-8 sophomore center Landon Barnes scored at the rim with 1:30 left to extend the lead to 52-24. Poolville entered the fourth quarter with a 54-28 advantage on the scoreboard.

In the final quarter of the contest, Monarchs head coach Doug Boxell emptied his bench to allow his role players some playoff court time, and Poolville — the second seed of District 11-2A Region II — emerged with a 32-point victory.

Lang led the Monarchs with a game-high 21 points while senior guard Anthony Rodriguez netted 12 first-quarter points. Barnes and Tovar each scored nine points for Poolville while senior guard JT Taberas and Ayers each added five.

The Monarchs (28-5, 10-2) will march onto the area round with matchup details to be announced. Poolville is aiming for its first trip to the regional tournament since the 2018-19 season.