Indy basketball advances to round two of state tourney

Coach Preston Davis talks to the team during Monday night's round one playoff win. Photo by Ron Morris

Coach Preston Davis talks to the team during Monday night’s round one playoff win. Photo by Ron Morris

The Independence Patriots basketball team moved one step closer to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state tournament last Monday night, with a narrow first-round playoff win against the RJ Reynolds High School Demons.

The game was close and hard-fought the entire time, with the final seconds deciding the outcome, 74-73 in the Patriots’ favor.

RJ Reynolds (12-15) came into the game averaging less than 60 points per game, compared to Independence’s (23-5) Southwestern 4A Conference title season and scoring average of 66.5.

Independence won the tip-off, and strong defense on both sides made scoring difficult in the first quarter, but Independence held on to the early lead, ending the quarter with a score of 21-15, in Indy’s favor.

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Barnes acts as ‘home wrecker’ during Homecoming game

Isiah Robinson returns the opening kickoff.

Friday nights’ game between Independence and the host South Meck Sabres took a while to get action going on either side of the ball. Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter. It was not seconds into the second quarter when, Patriots QB Jason Connella connected with his favorite wide out, Dequan Barnes for an 18 yard touchdown catch. Indy went up first, seven to zero at 11:09 left in the second quarter. About three minutes later, Connella kept the ball and ran it 16 yards for the second score of the night for Indy. The extra point was good, and the Patriots were up 14-0 with 8:08 minutes left in the first half.

Defense makes big plays

Senior Jack Tocho made some big plays in the next possession of the ball by South. Tocho made an open field tackle that prevented the Sabres from scoring and also intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop South as they marched down the field into Indy territory.

Getting looks

Barnes would get one more look from Conella before the end of the half. This time, he caught a five yard TD pass with 19 seconds to go before the half. The extra point was no good but Indy led 20-0 at halftime. It would take Independence almost five minutes before they were able to score in the third quarter. Connella looked Barnes’ way again and threw him a 65-yard TD pass. The score is: Indy 27, South Meck 0. Almost four minutes later the Connella-Barnes duo connected again, this time with 29-yard TD pass in the third quarter. The Patriot defense had two more big plays during the next two possessions of the ball by South. Defensive back Deion Washington saved an open field TD run by bringing down the Sabre ball carrier, stopping him on the Independence 14 yard line. Senior LB Chris Turpin put an end to the Sabre drive when he intercepted a pass.

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Patriots get down to business

The Independence Patriots want to forget the sting of last year’s three-loss season. Coaches led kids through position drills and 7-on-7 drills on a warm, humid Monday morning as they head back to work for the upcoming season.

Don’t worry though. These kids aren’t running laps in the August heat, they are running to get some water during a short break.

Football practice started Friday at Charlotte-Mecklenburg high schools.

Look for more photos Thursday in The Mint Hill Times.

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