Independence wrestlers hit stride

Over the last few weeks, the Independence wrestling team has been picking up wins and adding trophies to its collection. Over the holiday break, the Patriots went undefeated at the Clash at the Creek (5-0) to earn first place. Senior heavyweight Demtree Hardison was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler for his effort in leading Independence to first place. This past week, the team began its conference schedule and picked up wins over Rocky River and Myers Park. Independence defeated Rocky River 63-18 and Myers Park 49-21. The Patriots are 15-8 on the year and 2-0 in the SW4A conference. Their most recent hardware addition came at the fourth annual Holy Angels Invitational. Independence came in third place for the second year in a row. The following wrestlers placed for Independence: Tashon Risher, second place, at 170 lbs.; Brian Tiderman, first place at 195 lbs.; Charlie Kurtz, fourth place, at 220 lbs.; and Demtree Hardison, first place at 285 lbs. For the second tournament in a row, Hardison was voted most outstanding wrestler after pinning a state champion in the finals. The next match for the Patriots is Friday, January 11 when they host East Meck and Garinger at 6 pm.

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Independence Girls fall to W. Charlotte 62-51

The Independence Lady Patriots basketball team lost in a back-and-forth match against the West Charlotte Lions last Tuesday, December 11.

The high scorer for Independence was Laquisha Taylor, with 21 points. Turnovers were again the Achille’s heel, as Independence started off strong, reaching a 15-6 by the end of the first quarter, and were only down by one, 29-30, at halftime. Going into the final quarter, Indy had the lead 47-44, but were outscored in the fourth by West Charlotte, 14-8, ending the game with West ahead 52-61.

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Two Patriot wrestlers are champions at county tourney

By Frank Smithwick

Sports Writer
frank@minthilltimes.com

Eighteen schools participated in the two-day Al Kessie Mecklenburg County Wrestling Tournament held at Olympic High School this past weekend. 
The tournament is named after a former coach and athletic director in CMS who started the tournament many years ago. 
From Mint Hill, Independence, Rocky River, and first time participant Queens Grant wrestled. 
Queens Grant came away with one place winner, Connor Day, who took fourth place at 145 lbs. Rocky River had one place winner as well, Seth Johnson, who came in fourth place in the 195 lbs. weight class.
The Independence wrestling team came in third in team points without a full lineup.
Independence entered the tournament with a chance to be in contention for a top two finish. This goal was hindered when Indy began the tournament without three of its regular starters: Robert Merli (126 lbs.), Devin Taylor (138  lbs.) and Charlie Kurtz (220  lbs.). These three wrestlers have combined for 34 wins this year for the Patriots. Missing these wrestlers meant that other Indy wrestlers had to do well over the two-day tournament to make up points lost by not entering a full team. At the end of the second day, Indy had four wrestlers place in the top four. Tashon Risher came in fourth place at 170 lbs. and  Josh Matos came in second place at 182 lbs. Indy did crown two champions: Junior Brian Tiderman(195 lbs.) and senior Demetree Hardison (285 lbs.). This was the third county championship for Tiderman and the second for Hardison. 
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Independence can’t stop Butler’s Stribling from scoring

Last Friday night, two teams about six miles apart met in the second round of the NCHSAA 4AA playoffs: Butler and Independence. It was a home game for Butler, but since their stadium can’t hold the expected numbers, the game was at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte.

This was the second time in three weeks that these two teams met, the first time being to decide the winner of the SW4A regular season conference. Butler came out on top during the first meeting, and Indy was hoping to change the outcome this time.

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Independence’s cannon a forceful tradition

The cannon looks on as the Independence Patriots run onto the field for their November 2 playoff win vs. NW Guilford.
PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

For nearly 50 years, the Independence Patriots football team has been celebrating every touchdown and field goal with the blast of a cannon, tallying their score on the eardrums of the entire town.

The tradition started in 1966, when Independence High School first opened, and principal Sam Haywood enrolled the school in a contest, one where the prize was a new mascot.

“This was going to be forever, he wanted us to have the opportunity to be part of something great,” said Doug Pressley, former Independence teacher who now manages operations of the cannon.

The contest was held by Lay’s Meats and radio station 61 AM Big Waves Radio, to see which school could collect the most Lay’s Meat labels.

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